The origin of the afferent fibers to the lingual muscles of the dog was investigated by means of retrograde transport of horseradish peroxidase (HRP) from injection sites in the tongue and the extrinsic lingual muscles. Intralingual injections were not satisfactory because the enzyme diffused beyond the intrinsic lingual muscles to include virtually all tissues within the tongue. Thus, the resultant retrograde labeling of cell bodies of the trigeminal, geniculate, glossopharyngeal, vagal, and first cervical (C1) spinal ganglia represented a composite of lingual sensory innervation.

In order to confine HRP uptake to intramuscular nerve endings, injections were limited to surgically isolated extrinsic lingual muscles, i.e., the genioglossus, hyoglossus, and styloglossus. After these intramuscular injections, labeled neurons appeared ipsilaterally in the C1 spinal ganglion, the proximal vagal (jugular) ganglion, and trigeminal ganglion. Earlier suggestions that the lingual proprioceptive neurons of the dog reside in the distal vagal (nodose) ganglion and hypoglossal ganglia were not confirmed. The mesencephalic nucleus of the trigeminal nerve failed to label after enzyme injections into the tongue or the extrinsic lingual muscles.

The retrograde labeling of cell bodies in the C1 spinal ganglion was abolished when HRP injections into the extrinsic lingual muscles were preceded by surgical interruption of the ansa cervicalis or distal section of the hypoglossal nerve. Retrograde labeling of neurons in the proximal vagal ganglion persisted after hypoglossal nerve transections.