Innervation of the carotid body: Immunohistochemical, denervation, and retrograde tracing studies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)


This review presents information about multiple neurochemical substances in the carotid body. Nerve fibers around blood vessels and glomus cells within the chemoreceptive organ contain immunoreactivities (IR) for tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), substance P (SP), galanin (GAL), vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP), neuropeptide Y (NPY), calretinin (CR), calbindin D-28k (CB), parvalbumin (PV), and nitric oxide synthase (NOS). Parasympathetic neurons scattered around the carotid body contain VIP, choline acetyltransferase, and vanilloid receptor 1-like receptor. In the mammalian carotid body, transection of the carotid sinus nerve (CSN) causes the absence or decrease of CGRP-, SP-, and NOS-immunoreactive (IR) nerve fibers, whereas all NPY-IR nerve fibers disappear after removal of the superior cervical ganglion. Most VIP-IR nerve fibers disappear but a few persist after sympathetic ganglionectomy. In addition, the CSN transection appears to cause the acquisition of GAL-IR in originally immunonegative glomus cells and nerve fibers within the rat carotid body. On the other hand, 4%, 25%, 17%, and less than 1% of petrosal neurons retrogradely labeled from the rat CSN contain TH-, CGRP-, SP-, and VIP-IR, respectively. In the chicken carotid body, many CGRP- and SP-IR nerve fibers disappear after vagus nerve transection or nodose ganglionectomy. GAL-, NPY-, and VIP-IR nerve fibers mostly disappear after removal of the 14th cervical ganglion of the sympathetic trunk. The origin and functional significance of the various neurochemical substances present in the carotid body is discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)188-195
Number of pages8
JournalMicroscopy Research and Technique
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2002 Nov 1
Externally publishedYes


  • Calcium-binding protein
  • Carotid chemoreceptor
  • Carotid ganglion
  • Petrosal ganglion
  • Putative neurotransmitter
  • Superior cervical ganglion
  • VRL-1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Histology
  • Instrumentation
  • Medical Laboratory Technology


Dive into the research topics of 'Innervation of the carotid body: Immunohistochemical, denervation, and retrograde tracing studies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this