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Conventional choline acetyltransferase immunohistochemistry has been used widely for visualizing central cholinergic neurons and fibers but not often for labeling peripheral structures, probably because of their poor staining. The recent identification of the peripheral type of choline acetyltransferase (pChAT) has enabled the clear immunohistochemical detection of many known peripheral cholinergic elements. Here, we report the presence of pChAT-immunoreactive nerve fibers in rat skin. Intensely stained nerve fibers were distributed in association with eccrine sweat glands, blood vessels, hair follicles and portions just beneath the epidermis. These results suggest that pChAT-positive nerves participate in the sympathetic cholinergic innervation of eccrine sweat glands. Moreover, pChAT also appears to play a role in cutaneous sensory nerve endings. These findings are supported by the presence of many pChAT-positive neuronal cells in the sympathetic ganglion and dorsal root ganglion. Thus, pChAT immunohistochemistry should provide a novel and unique tool for studying cholinergic nerves in the skin.


Keiji Hanada, Saburo Kishimoto, Jean-Pierre Bellier, Hiroshi Kimura. Peripheral choline acetyltransferase in rat skin demonstrated by immunohistochemistry. Cell and tissue research. 2013 Mar;351(3):497-510

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PMID: 23250574

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