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Central pupillary light reflex circuits in the cat: I. The olivary pretectal nucleus

Authors

  • Wensi Sun,

    1. Department of Neurobiology & Anatomical Sciences, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, Mississippi
    Current affiliation:
    1. North Gate Eye Center, Seattle, WA
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  • Paul J. May

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Neurobiology & Anatomical Sciences, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, Mississippi
    2. Department of Ophthalmology, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, Mississippi
    3. Department of Neurology, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, Mississippi
    • Correspondence to: Paul J. May, Ph.D., Department of Neurobiology & Anatomical Sciences, University of Mississippi Medical Center, 2500 North State Street, Jackson MS 39216. E-mail: pmay@umc.edu.

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ABSTRACT

The central pathways subserving the feline pupillary light reflex were examined by defining retinal input to the olivary pretectal nucleus (OPt), the midbrain projections of this nucleus, and the premotor neurons within it. Unilateral intravitreal wheat germ agglutinin–conjugated horseradish peroxidase (WGA–HRP) injections revealed differences in the pattern of retinal OPt termination on the two sides. Injections of WGA–HRP into OPt labeled terminals bilaterally in the anteromedian nucleus, and to a lesser extent in the supraoculomotor area, centrally projecting Edinger–Westphal nucleus, and nucleus of the posterior commissure. Labeled terminals, as well as retrogradely labeled multipolar cells, were present in the contralateral OPt, indicating a commissural pathway. Injections of WGA–HRP into the anteromedian nucleus labeled fusiform premotor neurons within the OPt, as well as multipolar cells in the nucleus of the posterior commissure. Connections between retinal terminals and the pretectal premotor neurons were characterized by combining vitreous chamber and anteromedian nucleus injections of WGA–HRP in the same animal. Fusiform-shaped, retrogradely labeled cells fell within the anterogradely labeled retinal terminal field in the OPt. Ultrastructural analysis revealed labeled retinal terminals containing clear spherical vesicles. They contacted labeled pretectal premotor neurons via asymmetric synaptic densities. These results provide an anatomical substrate for the pupillary light reflex in the cat. Pretectal premotor neurons receive direct retinal input via synapses suggestive of an excitatory drive, and project directly to nuclei containing preganglionic motoneurons. These projections are concentrated in the anteromedian nucleus, indicating its involvement in the pupillary light reflex. J. Comp. Neurol. 522:3960–3977, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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