Direct comparison of the rapid axonal transport of norepinephrine and dopamine‐β‐hydroxylase activity

Stephen Brimijoin, Mary Jo Wiermaa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Stop‐flow techniques were used to examine the rapid axonal transport of norepinephrine in rabbit sciatic nerves. When the midpoint of a nerve incubated in vitro was cooled to 2°C while the remainder was kept at 37°C, norepinephrine accumulated proximal to the cooled region at a rate corresponding to an average transport velocity between 5 and 6 mm/hr in a distal direction. Since only about half of the norepinephrine appeared to be free to move, the mean velocity of the moving fraction was probably twice as great. No norepinephrine accumulated distal to a broad cooled region under conditions in which there would have been a significant accumulation of dopamine‐β‐hydroxylase activity. Therefore, unlike dopamine‐β‐hydroxylase, norepinephrine may not be subject to rapid retrograde transport. When nerves that had been locally cooled for 1.5 hr were rewarmed uniformly to 37°C, a wave of norepinephrine moved exclusively in a distal direction. The peak of this wave moved at a velocity of 12.2 ± 0.5 mm/hr or 293 ± 12 mm/day; the front of the wave moved at about 18 mm/hr. or 430 mm/day; and the tail probably moved faster than 6 mm/hr. This spectrum of velocities was virtually identical to the one displayed by the wave of dopamine‐β‐hydroxylase activity that was generated under the same conditions. Our results are consistent with the conclusion that all axonal structures containing norepinephrine also contain dopamine‐β‐hydroxylase, but they are not consistent with the converse.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)239-250
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Neurobiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1977

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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