Role of Barrington's nucleus in micturition



Barrington's nucleus is a central component of the micturition circuit. This nucleus projects axons to the sacral parasympathetic nucleus, where preganglionic neurons innervating the urinary bladder are located. To clarify the functional role of this nucleus, the firing properties of Barrington's neurons that project axons to the spinal cord were examined. Based on these studies, a model begins to emerge that places Barrington's nucleus in the micturition pathway that is involved in increasing bladder pressure rapidly and strongly, while also maintaining high bladder pressure. In addition, Barrington's neurons are suggested to have another role, that is, increasing the probability of micturition contraction by activating a spinal excitatory pathway or disinhibiting a spinal inhibitory mechanism. In contrast to the excitatory role of Barrington's nucleus, this nucleus does not seem to trigger bladder relaxation. J. Comp. Neurol. 493:21–26, 2005. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.