To investigate synaptic mechanisms in taste buds and collect information about synaptic transmission in these sensory organs, we have examined taste buds of the mudpuppy, Necturus maculosus for the presence of neurotransmitters and neuromodulators. Immunocytochemical staining at the light microscopic level revealed the presence of serotonin-like and cholecystokinin-like (CCK) immunoreactivity in basal cells in the taste bud. Nerve fibers innervating taste buds were immunoreactive for vasoactive intestinal peptide-like (VIP), substance P-like, and calcitonin gene-related peptide-like (CGRP) or compounds closely related to these substances. Immunoreactivity for tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) and choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) in the taste cells and nerve fibers was absent. These data suggest that serotonin, CCK, VIP, substance P, and CGRP are involved in synaptic transmission or neuromodulation in the peripheral organs of taste. No evidence was found for cholinergic or adrenergic mechanisms on the basis of the absence of immunocytochemical staining for key enzymes involved in these two transmitter systems.
- basal cells
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