Fine structure of adrenal medullary grafts in the pain modulatory regions of the rat periaqueductal gray

J. Sagen, G. D. Pappas, M. J. Perlow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Recent findings in our laboratory indicate that adrenal medullary grafts produce significant alterations in pain sensitivity. Electron microscopic studies were undertaken to correlate these behavioral changes with the neural interactions of the host and graft tissue in the periaqueductal gray. A striking change found 8 weeks after transplantation is that pronounced myelination has taken place both in the graft and in the host tissue. The new myelin formation in the graft has the typical appearance of PNS myelination and, in the host the appearance of CNS myelination. The endothelial cells of the capillaries in the grafted tissue are attenuated and fenestrated in contrast to those of the surrounding parenchymal tissue of the host. By 8 weeks, the graft becomes heavily encapsulated with collagen, while the host CNS tissue develops layers of glial processes outlining the graft. However, collagen and glial layers apparently do not form an absolute barrier to either cellular or humoral interaction between the host and graft tissue. Chromaffin cells can be found protruding into the host CNS tissue and sometimes forming synapses with presumably the host neuronal processes. Grafted chromaffin cells may participate as both postsynaptic and, less often, as presynaptic components of synaptic junctions. The behavioral relevance of these synaptic contacts is unclear, since similar implants of adrenal medullary tissue into the dorsal spinal cord subarachnoid space, which also induce potent analgesia, do not contain synapses. Thus, it is more likely that behavioral changes are brought about by diffusion of neuroactive substances from grafted chromaffin cells to host receptors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)380-390
Number of pages11
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 1987
Externally publishedYes


  • Adrenal medulla
  • Analgesia
  • Electron microscopy
  • Neural implants
  • Periaqueductal gray

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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