The central projections of the trigeminal, facial, glossopharyngeal and vagus nerves: an autoradiographic study in the rat

Robert J. Contreras, Robert M. Beckstead, Ralph Norgren

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Abstract

The central distributions of primary afferent axons in the facial, trigeminal (mandibular branch), glossopharyngeal, and vagal nerves of the rat have been re-examined using the autoradiographic tracing technique after injections of [3H]proline or [3H]leucine into their peripheral ganglia. Within the nucleus of the solitary tract (NST), the labeled terminals from VII, V, IX and X form a continuous distribution that spans the length of this nucleus. Sensory axons in VII terminate mainly within the lateral division of the rostral NST, although some of the terminals extend further caudally within the nucleus. Immediately caudal to the rostral NST, the distribution continues with major contributions from V and IX. Both are confined mainly to the lateral division of the NST, although some of the fibers in IX terminate within the medial division. Injections into the inferior ganglion of X confirm the extensive distribution of vagal axons as they ramify significantly within the lateral division, and virtually monopolize the medial division of the NST. Thus, the major zone of convergency for these 4 cranial nerves is the lateral division of the nucleus from the level of the entering fascicles of IX caudally to the level of the area postrema. Furthermore, only X has a crossed projection as vagal axons invade the commissural nucleus and the medial division of the contralateral NST. Vagal fibers also enter the area postrema bilaterally. Finally, some afferent fibers VII. IX and X descend in the dorsal part of the spinal trigeminal tract and terminate within the marginal subdivision of the spinal trigeminal nucleus pars caudalis, as well as the dorsal horn of the cervical spinal cord.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)303-322
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of the Autonomic Nervous System
Volume6
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1982

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Physiology
  • Clinical Neurology

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