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Collateral projections of neurons in laminae I, III, and IV of rat spinal cord to thalamus, periaqueductal gray matter, and lateral parabrachial area

By K.M. Al-Khater and A.J. Todd

Abstract

Projection neurons in lamina I, together with those in laminae III-IV that express the neurokinin 1 receptor (NK1r), form a major route through which nociceptive information reaches the brain. Axons of these cells innervate various targets, including thalamus, periaqueductal gray matter (PAG), and lateral parabrachial area (LPb), and many cells project to more than one target. The aims of this study were to quantify projections from cervical enlargement to PAG and LPb, to determine the proportion of spinothalamic neurons at lumbar and cervical levels that were labelled from PAG and LPb, and to investigate morphological differences between projection populations. The C7 segment contained fewer lamina I spinoparabrachial cells than L4, but a similar number of spino-PAG cells. Virtually all spinothalamic lamina I neurons at both levels were labelled from LPb and between one-third and one-half from PAG. This suggests that significant numbers project to all three targets. Spinothalamic lamina I neurons differed from those labelled only from LPb in that they were generally larger, were more often multipolar, and (in cervical enlargement) had stronger NK1r immunoreactivity. Most lamina III/IV NK1r cells at both levels projected to LPb, but few were labelled from PAG. The great majority of these cells in C7 and over one-fourth of those in L4 were spinothalamic, and at each level some projected to both thalamus and LPb. These results confirm that neurons in these laminae have extensive collateral projections and suggest that different neuronal subpopulations in lamina I have characteristic patterns of supraspinal projection. J. Comp. Neurol. 515:629-646, 2009. (c) 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc

Topics: RC
Year: 2009
DOI identifier: 10.1002/cne.22081
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.gla.ac.uk:6359
Provided by: Enlighten
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