Substance P immunoreactivity in the rat adrenal gland during postnatal development.
ABSTRACT Substance P (SP)-immunoreactive nerve fibers in the adrenal medulla was very few during postnatal day 0-5, indicating that its synthesis in the neurons and the transport to nerve endings was incomplete by the end of this period. Since the number of SP-immunoreactive nerve fibers gradually increased during postnatal week 1-2, it was hypothesized that SP was not fully transported to nerve endings until postnatal week 1-2. At postnatal week 3, numerous SP-immunoreactive nerve fibers contacted some noradrenaline (NA) cells but not adrenaline (A) cells in the medulla. From postnatal week 3 onward, the abundance and expression patterns of SP-immunoreactive nerve fibers in the medulla were similar to those in adults. At postnatal week 3, the innervation with SP-immunoreactive nerve fibers was completed indicating the possibility that SP affected on the secretory activity of NA cells but not of A cells in the medulla. The medullary SP-immunoreactive nerve fibers contacting the chromaffin cells possessed a few dense-cored vesicles in their endings at postnatal week 8. Very few SP-immunoreactive chromaffin cells were found in the medulla from postnatal day 0 onward, and SP immunoreactivity was primarily observed in granular cores of the cells suggesting that SP and catecholamine synthesized in the chromaffin cells were released from the granules by adequate stimuli. Very few or a few SP-immunoreactive nerve fibers, acting as a vasomotor effect were found around blood vessels in the superficial cortex from postnatal day 0 onward.