Reduced sympathetic neurite outgrowth on uterine tissue sections from rats treated with estrogen
In order to evaluate the contribution of substrate-bound factors to the extent and patterning of the sympathetic innervation of rat uterus following estrogen treatment, superior cervical ganglion explants from neonatal and adult ovariectomized rats were cultured on tissue sections of fresh frozen uterus from adult ovariectomized rats treated with estrogen or a vehicle. The main findings were: (1) neurite growth was greatly influenced by histological features of the underlying section; (2) on myometrial sections, neurites followed the orientation of the main axis of the longitudinally sectioned muscle cells; (3) neurites showed limited growth on transversally sectioned smooth muscle; (4) neuritic patterning was unaffected by a reduction in migrating ganglionic non-neuronal cells; (5) neurite outgrowth, but not non-neural cell migration, was markedly reduced on myometrial sections from rats treated with estrogen. These results suggest that adult myometrium continues to provide signals allowing the organotypic patterning and growth of sympathetic axons, that estrogen treatment modifies myometrial substrate properties so that it is less supportive for sympathetic neurite growth, and that adult sympathetic neurons retain their ability to recognize substrate-bound cues present in the myometrium. On endometrial sections, neurites formed radially symmetric halos, which were reduced in size on estrogen-treated endometrial substrates. Thus, changes in the neuritogenic capacity of the uterus underlie plasticity in uterine sympathetic nerves, and alterations in substrate-bound factors contribute to the diminished receptivity of the estrogenized uterus to its sympathetic innervation.
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