The nerve elements in the urinary bladder of the cat were studied by electron microscopy. According to their ultrastructure, nerve cell somata can be classified into three types: the large cells with a cytoplasm rich in organelles, several processes and numerous synaptic contacts on their surface; the cytoplasm contained 80- to 120-nm granulated vesicles. The second type is poor in cytoplasmic organelles and has very few processes and virtually no synaptic contacts on the soma. The third type contains numerous large 160- to 220-nm ‘neurosecretory’ vesicles in the cytoplasm. According to the morphology of the vesicle population, four types of nerve processes could be distinguished: Type a, with a dominant population of small (40–60 nm) agranular vesicles. These are thought to be sacral parasympathetic fibres. Type b, with small (40–60 nm) granular vesicles, which may be the noradrenergic sympathetic fibres. Type c, with 80- to 120-nm granulated vesicles, probably of local origin. Type d, with large 160- to 220-nm ‘neurosecretory’ vesicles also of local origin. Different types of nerve fibres are converging on the local nerve cells. This suggests that the local circuits can play an important role in coordinating the function of the bladder. Therefore, ganglia may be considered as an elementary functional unit.

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