Immunohistochemistry detected calcium-binding proteins (CaBPs) in corpuscular and Merkel nerve endings of the rat vibrissa. CaBP-immunoreactive (ir) corpuscular endings were divided into two types: ramified and unramified endings. Ramified endings were subdivided into reticular and Ruffini endings. Unramified endings were identical to longitudinal lanceolate endings which have been described previously. Reticular and unramified endings as well as Merkel endings co-expressed neurocalcin (NC)- and parvalbumin (PV)-immunoreactivity (ir). However, such endings were devoid of peptide 19 (PEP19)-ir. PV-ir Ruffini endings were immunoreactive for PEP19 but not NC. The retrograde tracing method revealed that 34, 21 and 18% of trigeminal neurons which project to the infraorbital nerve exhibited NC-, PEP19- and PV-ir, respectively. In addition, 73 and 36% of the PV-ir neurons showed NC- and PEP19-ir, respectively. The content and co-expression of CaBPs in vibrissal low-threshold mechanoreceptors may depend on their terminal morphology.
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