2020-02-23Zeitschriftenartikel DOI: 10.18452/23696
Constant innervation despite pubertal growth of the mouse penis
Cluster im Rahmen der Exzellenzinitiative
The sexual characteristics of the vertebrate body change under the control of sex hormones. In mammals, genitals undergo major changes in puberty. While such bodily changes have been well documented, the associated changes in the nervous system are poorly understood. To address this issue, we studied the growth and innervation of the mouse penis throughout puberty. To this end, we measured length and thickness of the mouse penis in prepubertal (3–4 week old) and adult (8–10 week old) mice and performed fiber counts of the dorsal penile nerve. We obtained such counts with confocal imaging of proximal sections of the mouse penis after paraffin embedding and antibody staining against Protein-Gene-Product-9.5 or Neurofilament-H in combination with antigen retrieval procedures. We find that the mouse penis grows roughly 1.4 times in both thickness and length. Fiber counts in the dorsal penile nerve were not different in prepubertal (1,620 ± 165 fibers per penis) and adult (1,572 ± 383 fibers per penis) mice, however. Antibody staining along with myelin staining by Luxol-Fast-Blue suggested about 57% of penile nerve fibers were myelinated. Quantification of the area of mouse somatosensory penis cortex allowed us to compare cortical magnification of the penile cortex and the whisker-barrel-cortex systems. This comparison suggested that 2 to 4 times less cortical area is devoted to a penile-nerve-fiber than to a whisker-nerve-fiber. The constant innervation of mouse penis through puberty suggests that the pubertal increase of cortical magnification of the penis is not simply a reflection of peripheral change.
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