Sympathetic innervation of the supratentorial dura mater of the rat

Jeffrey T. Keller, Carl F. Marfurt, Ruth V.W. Dimlich, Bryon E. Tierney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

67 Scopus citations


The origin, density, and distribution of sympathetic nerve fibers in the supratentorial dura mater of the rat were examined in detail in the current study by using wheat germ agglutinin horseradish peroxidase (WGA‐HRP) retrograde tracing procedures, glyoxylic acid‐induced fluorescence, and dopamine beta‐hydroxylase (DBH) immunocytochemical staining of dural whole mount preparations. Application of WGA‐HRP to the superior sagittal sinus and adjacent areas of the supratentorial dura mater labeled numerous neurons in each of the left and right superior cervical ganglia. Glyoxylic acid and DBH immunocytochemical staining of fixed dural whole mount preparations revealed prominent plexuses of sympathetic nerves about the middle meningeal artery and its branches, about the superior sagittal and transverse sinuses, and „free” within the dura mater, i.e., apparently unassociated with any vasculature. Significantly, in all of these areas, the density of sympathetic innervation revealed in this study was considerably greater than that previously demonstrated by other workers. An impressive population of mast cells also was observed within the dura mater of the glyoxylic acid‐treated preparations. The majority of these cells were perivascular; however, a significant number were also present within the dura unrelated to the vasculature, and occasional cells were seen in close apposition to fluorescent sympathetic nerve fibers. Taken together, the identification of a robust sympathetic plexus and prominent mast cell population associated with a dura mater that also receives significant sensory projections from the trigeminal system raises interest regarding the functional interactions of these elements. These observations warrant further consideration regarding their role in the pathogenesis of vascular headache and head pain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)310-321
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 8 1989


  • dopamine‐β‐hydroxylase
  • mast cells
  • middle meningeal artery
  • superior sagittal sinus
  • sympathetic fibers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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