The formation of adrenocortical zonation occurs in rats during late gestation. Since adult cortical function is modulated by neural mediators, it is possible that the development of differentiated function is dependent on cortical innervation. The goal of this study was to compare the pattern and timing of rodent and ovine adrenal innervation during late organogenesis by staining with antibodies directed against the neuropeptides vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP), calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) and neuropeptide tyrosine (NPY) and the catecholamine biosynthetic enzyme, tyrosine hydroxylase (TOH). Rat adrenals were collected from fetal days 17- 21 (term=21 days) and ovine adrenals from fetal days 101-136 (term=145 days). Adrenals were fixed, cryosectioned at 100μ and immunostained using Cy3- conjugated secondary antibodies. In both species, staining of VIP, CGRP, NPY and TOH fibers was observed in the capsule and subcapsular layers of the cortex during gestation. In late gestation, VIP- and NPY-positive ganglions cells were observed near the medulla extending processes toward the outer cortex; in ovine adrenals, fibers from ganglion cells appeared to surround nests of outer cortical (presumably, zona glomerulosa) cells. These data show that phenotypically distinct neural elements appear at different stages of adrenocortical development. The presence of neural elements in contact with adrenal cortical cells supports the possibility for neural control of adrenocortical development.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by NIH grant GM50150 (WCE) and HD11210 (JCR) and NSF grant IBN9728132 (WCE). Correspondence to: W.C. Engeland, Ph.D., Dept. of Surgery, Box 120 UMHC, Univ. of Minn., Minneapolis, MN 55455, (612) 625-4976, Fax: (612) 624-8909, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.