The distribution and interconnections of brainstem catecholamine cell groups thought to be important in cardiovascular control were studied using histochemical and ultrastructural techniques in the rabbit. Lesions and microinjections of horseradish peroxidase (HRP) were made in the nucleus tractus solitarii in the dorsomedial medulla, and in the ventrolateral medulla. After lesions of the dorsomedial medulla the fluorescence intensity of the Al-group of catecholamine neurons was increased, and swollen axons could be seen coursing from the ventrolateral medulla toward the lesions on the same side, but not the opposite side. Most of these axons ran in a band about 2 mm in width, centered at the level of the obex. Electron microscopically, specific cells, identified as A1-catecholamine neurons, showed evidence of chromatolysis after the dorsomedial lesions. Following injection of HRP into the nucleus tractus solitarii, A1-catecholamine cells in the ventrolateral medulla on the same side contained the reaction product. Lesions of the ventrolateral medulla did not produce evidence of a reciprocal projection of A2-catecholamine neurons toward the ventrolateral medulla. Thus axons of the A1-group of catecholamine neurons in the ventrolateral medulla project toward the ipsilateral nucleus tractus solitarii in a relatively compact band at the level of the obex. On the other hand, the A2-group of catecholamine neurons in the dorsomedial medulla does not appear to send projections toward the A1-group.
- Central catecholamine neurons
- Fluorescence microscopy
- Horseradish peroxidase
- Nucleus tractus solitarii
- Stereotaxic lesions