Molecular analysis of the vagal motoneuronal degeneration after right vagotomy.J Neurosci Res. 2002 Aug 01; 69(3):406-17.JN
The aim of this study was to investigate the vagal motoneuronal degeneration after right vagotomy using in situ hybridization, RT-PCR, and immunohistochemistry methods. The morphology of the vagal motoneurons in dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus nerve (DMV) and nucleus of ambiguus (NA) after right vagotomy was examined by using Nissl staing and TUNEL. The expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), bcl-2, bax, and caspase-3 in DMV and NA of rats after right vagotomy was studied. Additionally, the involvement of the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor-calcium-neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) pathway in the vagal motoneuronal degeneration was addressed by double-immunolabeling analysis of nNOS with NMDAR1 and calbindin D28K in right-vagotomized rats. The neurons in right DMV and NA displayed a darkly stained, shrunken morphology at 1 day and 5 days following right vagotomy as shown by Nissl staining. Quantitative analysis revealed that, at 1 day and 5 days following right vagotomy, the number of neurons in right DMV, but not NA, was significantly reduced in comparison with that of control rats. Occasional TUNEL-positive neurons were detected in right DMV of rat at 1 day after right vagotomy. The expression of iNOS protein and mRNA was absent in DMV and NA of control rats. However, the iNOS mRNA expression was induced bilaterally in DMV and NA at 1 day postoperation and continued to be up-regulated until 5 days after vagotomy as shown by in situ hybridization. Immunohistochemistry analysis also showed the increased expression of iNOS in bilateral DMV and NA of vagotomized rats. RT-PCR analysis revealed the enhanced bcl-2 and reduced bax mRNA levels and subsequent up-regulation of both bcl-2 and bax mRNA in right sides of the vagotomized brainstems at 1 day and 5 days postoperation, respectively. In situ hybridization analysis confirmed the up-regulation of bcl-2 and bax mRNA in right DMV and NA of the rats at 5 days following operation. Immunohistochemistry analysis showed up-regulated Bcl-2 immunoreactivity and undetectable changes in Bax immunoreactivity in DMV and NA of rats at 1 day after vagotomy, whereas enhancement of both Bcl-2 and Bax immunoreactivity was observed at 5 days postoperation. In addition, the caspase-3 mRNA level was elevated ipsilaterally in DMV and NA at 1 day and 5 days following right vagotomy. Double-immunofluorescence analysis showed complete colocalization of nNOS with NMDAR1 and with calbindin in ipsilateral DMV and NA at 10 days following right vagotomy. This study suggests that the signal pathway for NMDAR1-calcium-nNOS and the up-regulation of iNOS in DMV and NA may be involved in the vagal motor neurodgeneration after right vagotomy. Furthermore, our results imply that the apoptosis pathway mediated by Bcl-2, Bax, and caspase-3 may be activated in vagal motoneurons after right vagotomy.