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Keywords:

  • bed nucleus of the stria terminalis;
  • amygdala;
  • nucleus accumbens;
  • hypothalamus;
  • periaqueductal gray;
  • ingestive behavior;
  • anorexia

Abstract

The anterolateral group of the bed nuclei of the stria terminalis (BSTalg) contains four distinct cell groups embedded within an undifferentiated anterolateral area (BSTal) that architectonically resembles a subjacent subcommissural zone (BSTsc). The overall distributions of axonal projections from various regions of the BSTal and from the BSTsc were determined with the Phaseolus vulgaris–leucoagglutinin (PHAL) anterograde tracer method and found to be identical. The BSTal and BSTsc share dense bidirectional connections, and also project heavily within the BST to the rhomboid and fusiform nuclei and the anteroventral and anterodorsal areas. They project less densely to the juxtacapsular, oval, magnocellular, ventral, and interfascicular BST nuclei. Outside the BST, brain areas receiving strong to moderate inputs from the BSTal and BSTsc fall into several functional groups: somatomotor system (nucleus accumbens, substantia innominata, ventral tegmental area, and retrorubral area and adjacent midbrain reticular nucleus), central autonomic control system (central amygdalar nucleus, dorsal lateral hypothalamic area, ventrolateral periaqueductal gray, parabrachial nucleus, and nucleus of the solitary tract), neuroendocrine system (paraventricular and supraoptic nuclei, hypothalamic visceromotor pattern generator network), and thalamocortical feedback loops (midline, medial, and intralaminar nuclei). The results indicate that the BSTal and BSTsc are parts of the same cell group (dorsal and ventral to the anterior commissure), which plays a role in coordinating visceral and somatic motor responses (during ingestive behaviors, for example), especially in response to noxious stimuli (learned anorexia associated with noxious stimuli). BSTal projections are distinct from those of the adjacent juxtacapsular, oval, fusiform, and rhomboid nuclei. J. Comp. Neurol. 468:277–298, 2004. © 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.