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Biomedical Research

The fine structure of the Giant Serotonin-containing Cells of Helix aspersa

Author(s): A. Henry Sathananthan, M.A. Qayyum

Vol. 14, No. 1 (2003-01 - 2003-06)

A. Henry Sathananthan, M.A. Qayyum

Correspondence to:

Dr. A. Henry Sathananthan
Human Biosciences,
La Trobe University.
Bundoora, Victoria 3083

e-mail: henry.sathananthan(at)

The fine structure of the Giant Serotonin Cell (GSC) of Helix aspersa has been described. The ultrastructural organization of the perikaryon, particularly that of Nissl substance, somewhat conforms to that of a typical mammalian neuron. The unipolar cell has a large nucleus with an abundance of nucleolar material, a perinuclear Nissl zone and a cortical, vacuolated zone with pigment granules. Most of the cytoplasmic organelles commonly seen in a vertebrate neuron were observed. The axon and some of its processes were traced from the cerebral to the buccal neuropile along the cerebro-buccal connectives. Dense-cored vesicle (64-120 nm, average ~ 100nm) with specks of enhanced electron dense material, some with irregularly-shaped or eccentrically-placed cores, were seen in the perikaryon and throughout the axoplasm. The speckled nature of the vesicles was used as a reliable means of identifying the processes of the GSC remote from the perikaron. Evidence in favour of using this characteristic for specific identification of 5-HT nerves in molluscs is presented.

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