Immunohistochemical localization of cardio-active neuropeptides in the heart of a living fossil, Nautilus pompilius L. (Cephalopoda, Tetrabranchiata)

J. Springer, P. Ruth, K. Beuerlein, B. Westermann, R. Schipp

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Neuropeptides play an important role in modulating the effects of neurotransmitters such as acetylcholine and noradrenaline in the heart and the vascular system of vertebrates and invertebrates. Various neuropeptides, including substance P (SP), vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP) and FMRFamide, have been localized in the brain in cephalopods and the neuro-secretory system of the vena cava. Previous studies involving cephalopods have mainly focussed on the modern, coleoid cephalopods, whereas little attention was paid to the living fossil Nautilus. In this study, the distributions of the peptides related to tachykinins (TKs) and the high affinity receptor for the best characterized TK substance P (tachykinin NK-1), VIP, as well as FMRFamide were investigated in the heart of Nautilus pompilius L. by immunohistochemistry. TK-like immunoreactivity (TK-LI) was seen associated to a sub-population of hemocytes, VIP-LI glial cells in larger nerves entering the heart, whereas FMRFamide immunoreactivity was distributed throughout the entire heart, including the semilunar atrioventricular valves. The pattern of FMRFamide immunoreactivity matched that of Bodian silver staining for nervous tissue. The NK-1-LI receptor was located on endothelial cells, which were also positive for endothelial nitric oxide synthase-LI (eNOS). The results indicate that neuropeptides may be involved in the regulation of the Nautilus heart via different mechanisms, (1) by direct interaction with myocardial receptors (FMRFamide), (2) by interacting with the nervus cardiacus (VIP-related peptides) and (3) indirectly by stimulating eNOS in the endothelium throughout the heart (TK-related peptides).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-28
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Molecular Histology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2003

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