The ultrastructural characteristics of primary afferent fibres, which express α-galactose extended oligosaccharides recognized by LD2 and LA4 monoclonal antibodies, and the subcellular localization of these oligosaccharides were studied. LD2 and LA4 antibodies both label intensely the plasma membrane of primary afferent fibres, and with LD2 antibody all immunoreactive profiles also possessed strong intracellular staining. In contrast, intracellular staining with LA4 antibody was observed in only a subpopulation of stained profiles. LD2-immunoreactive fibres were detected in trigeminal and Lissauer tracts and in lamina I (LI) and lamina II (LII), and appeared as a mixture of unmyelinated and myelinated fibres. The highest density of LD2-immunoreactive synaptic boutons was found in lamina II outer (LIIo). Many of the terminals were simple dome-shaped terminals, making single asymmetric synapses over small and medium-sized dendritic shafts and dendritic spines. All LA4-immunoreactive fibres were unmyelinated. In addition, some small scalloped central-glomerular terminals contacting two or three dendrites were found. LA4-immunoreactive fibres were found more frequently than terminals and appeared most heavily immunostained in trigeminal and Lissauer tracts. In the neuropil of LI and LII, LA4 profiles were generally very weakly immunostained, although a small sample of immunostained synaptic boutons was detected. All LA4-immunoreactive terminals were found in lamina II inner (LIIi) and made simple asymmetric axodendritic synapses. In addition to axons and terminals, some dendrites exhibited LD2 immunoreactivity and this was most intense in the region of synaptic vesicles. In addition to neurons, some endothelial cells were immunostained with LD2 antibody and astrocytes were immunostained with LA4 antibody.
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