Both [Leu5]- and [Met5]-enkephalin have been localized immunohistochemically in nerve fibres and in small, intensely fluorescent cells of adult human sympathetic ganglia. The nerve fibres showing enkephalin-like immunoreactivity formed a network varying in density around the sympathetic neurons, some being closely related to the perikarya. No labelled neuronal cell bodies were found. No structures within the ganglion were labelled after reaction with antibodies to vasoactive intestinal polypeptide, adrenocorticotrophin or substance P. No differences between the distributions of [Leu5]-and [Met5]-enkephalin-like immunoreactivities were found. The physiological roles of enkephalins are still unknown, but it is possible that they might act as neurotransmitters or neuromodulators in the human sympathetic nervous system.
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