The location, number and size of the central and peripheral neurons innervating the ischiocavernous muscle (ICM) were studied in male pigs by means of Fast Blue (FB) retrograde neuronal tracing. Moreover the immunohistochemical properties of the sympathetic ganglia were investigated combining the double immunolabelling method. After injection of FB into the left ICM, a mean number of 245.3134.9 labelled neurons were found in the ipsilateral ventral horn of the S1-S3 segments of the spinal cord (SC), 129.745.5 in the L6-S3 ipsilateral and S2-S3 contralateral spinal ganglia (SGs), 2279.3622.1 in the ipsilateral L2-S2 and contralateral L5-S2 sympathetic trunk ganglia (STGs), 541.7158 in the bilateral caudal mesenteric ganglia (CMGs), and 78.335.8 in the microganglia of the pelvic plexus (PGs). The mean area of the ICM projecting neurons was 121769.7 m2 in the SC, 2737.5176.5 m2 in the SGs, 982.836.8 m2 in the STGs, 865.939.14 m2 in the CMGs and 426.224.72 m2 in the PGs. The FB positive neurons of autonomic ganglia contained Dopamine hydroxylase (DH), Vesicular Acetylcholine Transporter (VAChT), neuronal Nitric Oxyde Sinthase (n-NOS), Calcitonine Gene Related Peptide (CGRP), Leu-Enkephaline (LENK), Neuropeptide Y (NPY), Substance P (SP), Vasoactive Intestinal Polypeptide (VIP) and Somatostatine (SOM) often colocalized with Tyrosine Hydroxylase(TH). The particular localization of the motor somatic nucleus, the abundant autonomic innervation and the qualitatively different content of ICM projecting sympathetic neurons suggest a complex regulation of this striated muscle involved in involuntary functions, such as the erection, ejaculation, micturition and defecation.
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