Evidence that the extraocular motor nuclei innervate monkey palisade endings

Lars Zimmermann, Paul J. May, Ángel M. Pastor, Johannes Streicher, Roland Blumer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal article (peer-reviewed)Journal article

27 Citations (Scopus)


Palisade endings are found in the extraocular muscles (EOMs) of almost every mammalian species, including primates. These nerve specializations surrounding the muscle fiber insertion have been postulated to be the proprioceptors of the EOMs. However, it was recently demonstrated that palisade endings have a cholinergic nature, which reopened the question of whether palisade endings are motor or sensory structures. In this work, we examined whether the cell bodies of palisade endings lie in EOM motor nuclei by injecting an anterograde tracer, biotinylated dextran amine, into the abducens nucleus of a macaque monkey. Tracer visualization in the lateral rectus muscle was combined with choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) and α-bungarotoxin staining. Analysis of the samples was performed by conventional light microscopy and confocal laser scanning microscopy. About 30% of the nerve fibers innervating the muscle were tracer positive. These were ChAT positive as well. Tracer positive nerve fibers established motor contacts on singly and multiply innervated muscle fibers, which were confirmed by α-bungarotoxin staining. At the transition between muscle and distal tendon, we found palisade endings that contained tracer. Palisade endings exhibited the classic morphology: axons arising from the muscle extend onto the tendon, then turn back 180° and terminate in a cuff of terminals around an individual muscle fiber tip. This finding suggests that the cell bodies of palisade endings lie in the EOM motor nuclei, which complements prior studies demonstrating a cholinergic, and possibly motor, phenotype for palisade endings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-93
Number of pages5
JournalNeuroscience Letters
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 04 Feb 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Extraocular muscle
  • Monkey
  • Oculomotor
  • Palisade endings
  • Proprioception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (all)


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