Neural control of bone metabolism and growth has been suggested, although the identity of participating neurons and neurotransmitters effecting this control has not been established. Immunohistochemical studies demonstrated a system of vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP)-immunoreactive nerve fibers that innervate periosteum and bone in several mammalian species. Thoracic sympathetic chain ganglionectomy resulted in an ipsilateral loss of VIP-immunoreactive fibers in the periosteum of ribs, whereas dorsal root ganglionectomy had no effect. Injection of fast blue into rib periosteum labeled a population of VIP-immunoreactive sympathetic postganglionic neurons. Thus, postganglionic sympathetic neurons may provide an important means by which VIP regulates bone mineralization.

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