PURPOSE. To analyze palisade endings in cat extraocular muscles (EOMs) and to clarify whether these EOM-specific organs are sensory or motor. METHODS. Twelve cats aged between 1 and 16 years were analyzed. Whole EOM tendons were immunostained using four different combinations of triple fluorescence labeling. Triple labeling included antibodies against choline acetyltransferase (ChAT), neurofilament, synaptophysin, and α-bungarotoxin. Preparations were examined by confocal laser scanning microscopy. ChAT-labeled EOMs were also analyzed by immunoelectron microscopy. Three-dimensional reconstructions were made of palisade endings. RESULTS. Palisade endings were found in the distal and proximal myotendinous regions of cat EOMs. These endings arose from thin nerve fibers coming from the muscle and extending into the tendon. There, the nerve fibers turned back 180° to divide into terminal branches around the muscle fiber tips. Terminal branches established numerous contacts with the tendon attached to the muscle fiber tip and only a few contacts with the muscle fiber. Often, nerve fibers forming palisade endings on muscle fiber tips were observed to establish multiple motor contacts on muscle fibers outside palisade endings. Three-dimensional reconstructions depicted the complex morphology of the palisade endings. All nerve fibers supplying palisade endings stained positively for ChAT and neurofilament. All nerve terminals in palisade endings were ChAT and synaptophysin positive. Only neuromuscular contacts in palisade endings were positive for α-bungarotoxin, as well. CONCLUSIONS. This study provides evidence that palisade endings in cat EOMs have effector function. The findings may be of significance for strabismus surgery because palisade endings are also found in human EOMs.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sensory Systems
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience