2001 Volume 64 Issue 3 Pages 267-280
The major pelvic ganglion in both the rat and guinea pig has been extensively studied because of its anatomical simplicity. To clarify the target specific neural pathway in the diffusely distributed pelvic ganglia of larger animals, the pelvic plexus of the female dog was investigated by retrograde tracing and immunohistochemistry. The whole mount staining of the pelvic plexus with acetylcholinesterase histochemistry revealed 70-100 ganglia of varying sizes. Neurons retrogradely labeled from the rectum were mainly found in ganglia located in the dorso-caudal part of the plexus. The majority of these were non-catecholaminergic, immunoreactive for either calbindin (Calb) or neuropeptide Y (NPY), and characteristically associated with baskets of enkephalin (ENK)-immunoreactive varicose fibers. Neurons projecting to the utero-vaginal walls were distributed in ganglia located in the ventro-caudal part of the plexus. These mainly consisted of two major neuron groups: catecholaminergic Calb-immunoreactive neurons, and non-catecholaminergic neurons containing nitric oxide synthase (NOS) and/or vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP), which were preferentially associated with a network of ENK-immunoreactive varicose fibers. Neurons retrogradely labeled from the urinary bladder mainly occurred in ganglia located around the junction between the ureter and the bladder. These consisted of catecholaminergic Calb neurons and non-catecholaminergic neurons containing Calb or NOS. Only a few ENK-immunoreactive fibers were found within the clusters of catecholaminergic neurons. These results indicate that organ specific neurons are located in separate ganglia and have both a distinctive composition of neuron types as well as different innervation by preganglionic fibers.