Light, electron, and confocal microscopic study of the mouse superior mesenteric ganglion

Steven M. Miller, Menachem Hanani, Susan M. Kuntz, Philip F. Schmalz, Joseph H. Szurszewski

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31 Scopus citations


The superior mesenteric ganglion (S.m.g.), a sympathetic prevertebral ganglion, is an integrating center for gastrointestinal reflexes. Many details of its structure are still lacking. In the present study, mouse S.m.g. neurons were studied by light, electron, and confocal microscopy. Neurons had an average of 5-6 primary dendrites. Total dendritic length averaged 963 μm. Confocal microscopy and three-dimensional reconstructed images revealed cell body surface features, precise location where axons and dendrites emerged from it, cell body size, and extent of dendritic projection in three axes. Cell body diameter and dendritic projections were less in the dorsoventral than in the rostrocaudal or mediolateral axes. Cell body surface area and volume averaged 4,271 μm2 and 4,908 μm3, respectively. Dendritic surface areas and volumes were 5-6 times larger. Two main neuron types (projecting caudally or rostrally) were distinguished. The former were found throughout the S.m.g., whereas the latter were found only in the cephalad region, comprising about 40% of neurons found there. Rostrally projecting neurons had fewer primary dendrites, fewer total dendritic branches, and shorter total dendritic length than caudally projecting neurons. There were regional differences in percentage of neurons responding to electrical stimulation of left or right hypogastric, lumbar colonic, or left splanchnic nerves but not in nerve fibers connecting the S.m.g. and celiac ganglion. A greater percentage of caudally than rostrally projecting cephalad neurons responded to stimulation of any nerve trunk. These results indicate that the mouse S.m.g. contains at least two distinct types of neurons that differ in their morphology and their source of preganglionic synaptic input.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)427-444
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 12 1996


  • 3-D morphology
  • horseradish peroxidase
  • sympathetic ganglia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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