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Keywords:

  • amygdala;
  • autonomic;
  • arcuate nucleus;
  • bed nucleus of the stria terminalis;
  • eating;
  • hypothalamus;
  • neuroendocrine;
  • paraventricular nucleus

Abstract

The anteromedial area of the bed nuclei of the stria terminalis (BSTam) is the relatively undifferentiated region of the anterior medial (anteromedial) group of the bed nuclei of the stria terminalis (BSTamg), which also includes the more distinct dorsomedial, magnocellular, and ventral nuclei. The overall pattern of axonal projections from the rat BSTam was analyzed with the Phaseolus vulgaris-leucoagglutinin anterograde pathway tracing method. Brain areas receiving relatively moderate to strong inputs from the BSTam fall into five general categories: neuroendocrine system (regions containing pools of magnocellular oxytocin neurons, and parvicellular corticotropin-releasing hormone, thyrotropin-releasing hormone, somatostatin, and dopamine neurons); central autonomic control network (central amygdalar nucleus, descending paraventricular nucleus, and ventrolateral periaqueductal gray); hypothalamic visceromotor pattern generator network (five of six known components); behavior control column (descending paraventricular nucleus and associated arcuate nucleus; ventral tegmental area and associated nucleus accumbens and substantia innominata); and behavioral state control (supramammillary and tuberomammillary nuclei). The BSTam projects lightly to thalamocortical feedback loops (via the medial-midline-intralaminar thalamus). Its pattern of axonal projections, combined with its pattern of neural inputs (the most varied of all BST cell groups), suggests that the BSTam is part of a striatopallidal differentiation involved in coordinating neuroendocrine, autonomic, and behavioral or somatic responses associated with maintaining energy balance homeostasis. J. Comp. Neurol. 494:142–178, 2006. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.