There is recent evidence that the amine storing cells of mammalian adrenal medulla also contain bioactive peptides. In the present study we examined human adrenal glands with the immunoperoxidase-bridge method using specific antisera raised against [Met5]- and [Leu5]-enkephalin, vasoactive intestinal polypeptide hormone (VIP), and substance P. Approximately one-third of the cells in the adrenal medulla demonstrated enkephalin-like immunoreactivity. The intensity of the immunostain varied among individual cells but did not appear to correlate with amine content, as determined by the formaldehyde-induced fluorescence of catecholamines. An abundant network of varicose fibre-like structures and dots, representing preterminal and terminal nerves, demonstrated vasoactive intestinal polypeptide-like immunoreactivity and were found in close proximity to medullary gland cells. Substance P-like immunoreactivity was observed in a few fibres in the medulla and cortex. However, we could not detect cells containing vasoactive intestinal polypeptide- or substance P-like immunoreactivity in adrenal glands. p ]The present findings suggest that human adrenal medullary cells contain both [Met5]- and [Leu5]-enkephalin and are richly innervated by peptidergic nerves containing vasoactive intestinal polypeptide. These peptides may modulate the release and effects of catecholamines in the adrenal medulla. The nerves with substance P-like immunoreactivity may represent a separate peptidergic neuronal system.
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