Atlas of catecholamine perikarya, varicosities and pathways in the brain stem of the cat

Author(s): Jones BE, Friedman L


By application of a modified glyoxylic acid--paraformaldehyde histofluorescence technique, catecholamine perikarya, varicosities, and pathways were delineated within the brainstem of kittens that were either untreated, pretreated pharmacologically, or injected intracerebrally with 6-OHDA. Three principle catecholamine cell groups were identified within the medulla and pons; the dorsomedial medullary cell group, the dorsolateral pontine cell group, and a ventrolateral cell group extending from the medulla into the pons. Induced axonal accumulation of catecholamines with intracerebral 6-OHDA injections revealed a major longitudinal catecholamine bundle which courses in a dorsolateral position through the entire brainstem tegmentum. The dorsomedial medullary and dorsolateral pontine cell groups contribute ascending and descending fibers to this bundle. Axons of the ventrolateral pontomedullary cells also feed into the bundle at successive levels through radially coursing transverse fibers. Via this major dorsolateral conduit and its ventrally and medially coursing tributaries, catecholamine fibers and terminals are distributed to multiple nuclei through the brainstem. The regions of the catecholamine cell groups and the serotonin raphe nuclei all receive a dense catecholamine innervation. Varicosities are also dense in the visceral cranial nerve nuclei, moderately dense in most somatic spinal and cranial nerve motor nuclei, and moderate to light in sensory cranial nerve and relay nuclei. The lateral and ventromedial reticular formation are moderately innervated by varicose catecholamine fibers that traverse these regions. The longitudinal catecholamine bundle continues caudally into the lateral funiculus to descend into and innervate the spinal cord. Rostrally it continues into the tegmental fascicles of the midbrain to ascend into and innervate the diencephalon and there join the medial forebrain bundle to ascend into the telencephalon. Thus, the catecholamine neurons utilize this dorsolateral longitudinal bundle to distribute collaterals to multiple bulbar nuclei and to travel beyond the brainstem to innervate the spinal cord and forebrain.

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