Two groups of experiments were carried out in rabbits. In the first group, the distribution of cell bodies within the pons and medulla projecting ipsilaterally and contralaterally to the thoracic or lumbar spinal cord was studied using the horseradish peroxidase (HRP)/tetramethylbenzidine (TMB) procedure. In the second group, both a previously described double-labeling technique and a new modification of it were used to determine the location of catecholamine (CA)-fluorescent pontomedullary cells projecting to the spinal cord. The results demonstrate that the catecholamine (probably norepinephrine)-containing neurons which innervate the thoracic spinal cord are confined almost exclusively to the pons where they are found within the A5, A7 and subcoeruleus groups, as well as the ventral portion of the principal part of the locus coeruleus and the more caudal locus coeruleus, including the A4 cell group. Within the medulla oblongata no doubly labeled A2 cells were observed and the few doubly labeled A1 cells which were observed were confined to the rostral portion of this group. A dense group of HRP-positive but non-fluorescent cells was found rostral to the A1 area in the ventrolateral reticular formation. These cells, which correspond in position to PNMT-containing cells in the rat, appear to project to both thoracic and lumbar segments of the spinal cord. In contrast, spinally projecting neurons within the nucleus tractus solitarius originated from different subnuclei according to their segmental destination. New information about the organization of medial reticulospinal and vestibulospinal pathways was also obtained.
- central catecholamine cell groups
- locus coeruleus
- nucleus tractus solitarius
- reticulospinal pathways
- vestibular nuclei