[Electron microscopic observation of COX activity in pre-BotC of brainstem in rats: application of histochemical staining and immuno-electron microscopic double-labeling]

Junjun Kang, Weihua Liang, Xiaofeng Huang, Yingying Liu
Xi Bao Yu Fen Zi Mian Yi Xue za Zhi, Chinese Journal of Cellular and Molecular Immunology 2017, 33 (9): 1177-1181
Objective To explore the changes of cytochrome oxidase (COX) activity in the pre-Botzinger complex (pre-BotC) of the brainstem. Methods The double labeling of COX histochemistry and pre-BotC marker neurokinin-1 receptor (NK1R) nanogold-silver immunohistochemical staining was conducted to determine COX activity in the pre-BotC, especially within different subcellular structures of this nucleus. COX activity was semi-quantitatively analyzed. Results Under the light microscope, NK1R-immunoreactive (NK1R-ir) product was mainly distributed along the neuronal membrane, clearly outlining pre-BotC neurons. COX histochemical staining in brown was extensively expressed in the somata and processes of NK1R-ir neurons. Under the electron microscope, NK1R-ir gold particles were mainly distributed along the inner surface of the membrane of the somata and dendrites. The cytoplasm was also found labeled with NK1R-ir gold particles. The mitochondrial shape and distribution were different in different subcellular structures (somata, axon terminals, dendrites) of the pre-BotC. They were usually round or oval in the somata and axon terminals, whereas in the dendrites, slender elongated mitochondria were the most common. Tubular and vesicular cristae were more commonly visualized in the somata, but lamellar-oriented cristae were frequently encountered in the dendrites and axon terminals. The mitochondria appeared clustered together in the axon terminals, but in scattered distribution and close to the membrane in the dendrites except at synapses, where they were densely distributed and enlarged locally close to the postsynaptic membrane. The close link of the mitochondria with synapses indicated functional requirement that postsynaptic signal neurotransmission needs a large amount of ATP consumption. COX active product was expressed in the mitochondrial cristae, where different densities of the cristae represented different level of COX activity. The higher level of COX activity was evident in the axon terminals and dendrites than that in the somata, being significantly different. Conclusion Subcellular different regions in the pre-BotC function differently and need different energy metabolisms, thereby axon terminals and dendrites require higher COX activity than somata. In particular at synapses, mitochondria are densely localized with high COX activity. The present study provides a new approach by combination of COX histochemistry with immuno-electron microscopic techniques to detect regional COX activity in different subcellular structures of neurons.

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