Axonal Transport of Zinc Transporter 3 and Zinc Containing Organelles in the Rodent Adrenergic System

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Abstract

Zinc is the second most abundant trace metal (after iron) in mammalian tissues, and it is an essential element for growth, development, DNA synthesis, immunity, and other important cellular processes. A considerable amount of zinc in the brain exists as a pool of free or loosely bound zinc ions in synaptic vesicles with zinc transporter 3 (ZnT3) in their membranes. Here we demonstrate that also in the peripheral sympathetic nervous system zinc handling neurons exist. In autonomic ganglia of rats and mice a subset of neuronal cell bodies contain zinc, visualized by the autometallographic (AMG) and TSQ histochemical methods. The Zn-transporter 3 is, as shown by immunofluorescence, also present in tyrosine hydroxylase (TH)-positive neurons, but rarely in cell bodies with neuropeptide Y (NPY)-immunoreactivity (IR). In axons of crush-operated sciatic nerves a rapid bidirectional accumulation of AMG granules occurred. Also ZnT3-IR was found to accumulate rapidly in anterograde as well as retrograde direction, colocalized with TH-IR. So far nerve terminals with ZnT3-IR have not been observed. The functional significance of zinc ions in the sympathetic system is not known.

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