Immunohistochemistry for osteocalcin (OC) was performed on the rat vagal and glossopharyngeal sensory ganglia. OC-immunoreactive (IR) neurons were detected in the jugular (10%), petrosal (11%) and nodose ganglia (6%). The cell size analysis demonstrated that OC-IR neurons were predominantly small to medium-sized in the jugular ganglion (mean±S.D.=356.3±192.2 μm 2, range=86.5-831.5 μm 2). On the other hand, such neurons were medium-sized to large in the petrosal (mean±S.D.=725. 6±280.7 μm 2, range=124.7-1540.4 μm 2) and nodose ganglia (mean±S.D.=857.5±330.2 μm 2, range=367.1-1608.0 μm 2). In the circumvallate papilla, OC-IR nerve fibers were located in the vicinity of taste buds. Some taste bud cells were also immoureactive for the calcium-binding protein (CaBP). In the carotid body, however, OC-IR nerve fibers could not be detected. Retrograde tracing with fluorogold revealed that OC-IR nerve fibers in the circumvallate papilla mainly originated from the petrosal ganglion. These findings may suggest that OC-IR petrosal neurons have chemoreceptive function in the tongue.
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