Convergence of sensory processes from the heart and left ulnar nerve onto a single afferent perikaryon: A neuroanatomical study in the rat employing fluorescent tracers



After injection of true blue (TB) into the pericardial sac and nuclear yellow (NY) into the left ulnar nerve of rats, most perikarya in the left eighth cervical and first thoracic dorsal root ganglia are single-labeled with either TB or NY. However, 7.1–14.7% of the sensory perikarya from the cardiac area labeled with TB are simultaneously labeled with NY. This finding indicates that some primary sensory perikarya receive processes from both the left arm and the heart. In addition to other mechanisms that may be operative in the referral of pain of cardiac origin to the medial left arm, these results suggest that sensory neurons with dichotomizing somatic and visceral peripheral processes may also contribute to this phenomenon.