The development of the superior cervical ganglion was studied by electron microscopic method in human fetuses ranging from 40 mm to 260 mm of crown-rump length (10 to 30 weeks of gestational age). At 40 mm fetus, the superior cervical ganglion was composed of clusters of undifferentiated cell, primitive neuroblast, primitive supporting cell, and unmyelinated fibers. At 70mm fetus, the neuroblasts and their processes were ensheated by the bodies or processes of satellite cells. The cytoplasm of the neuroblast contained rough endoplasmic reticulum, mitochondria, Golgi complex, Nissl bodies and dense-cored vesicles. As the neuroblasts grew and differentiated dense-cored vesicles moved away from perikaryal cytoplasm into developing processes. Synaptic contacts between the cholinergic axon and dendrites of postganglionic neuron and a few axosomatic synapses were first observed at 70 mm fetus. At 90 mm fetus the superior cervical ganglion consisted of neuroblasts, satellite cells, granule-containing cells, and unmyelinated nerve fibers. The ganglion cells increased somewhat in numbers and size by 150 mm fetus. Further differentiation resulted in the formation of young ganglion cells, whose cytoplasm was densely filled with cell organelles. During next prenatal stage up to 260 mm fetus, the cytoplasm of the ganglion cells contained except for large pigment granules, all intracytoplasmic structures which were also found in mature superior cervical ganglion. A great number of synaptic contact zones between the cholinergic preganglionic axon and the dendrites of the postganglionic neuron were observed and a few axosomatic synapses were also observed. Two morphological types of the granule-containing cells in the superior cervical ganglion were first identified at 90 mm fetus. Type I granule-containing cell occurred in solitary, whereas type II tended to appeared in clusters near the blood capillaries. Synaptic contacts were first found on the solitary granule-containing cell at 150 mm fetus. Synaptic contacts between the soma of type I granule-containing cells and preganglionic axon termials were observed. In addition, synaptic junctions between the processes of the granule- containing cells and dendrites of postganglionic neuron were also observed from 150 mm fetus onward. In conclusion, superior cervical ganglion cells and granule-containing cells arise from a common undifferentiated cell precursor of neural crest . The granule-containg cells exhibit a local modulatory feedback system in the superior cervical ganglion and nay serve as interneurons between the preganglionic and postganglionic cells.
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