An autoradiographic study of the efferent connections of the lateral hypothalamic area in the rat


  • This work was supported in part by Grants NS-10943, EY-01255 and GM-02016 from the National Institutes of Health


The efferent connections of the lateral hypothalamic area (LHA) have been analyzed in a series of 30 rat brains with injections of 3H-amino acids into different parts of the area and the surrounding regions. Our findings indicate that all parts of the LHA contribute ascending and descending fibers to the medial forebrain bundle, and also project medially to certain of the adjoining hypothalamic nuclei. All levels of the LHA appear to send some fibers to a continuous group of structures that extends from the medial septal-diagonal band complex rostrally, through the lateral preoptic and lateral hypothalamic areas to the mammillary complex and the ventral tegmental area caudally. In addition, it is evident that cells at different levels within the LHA may have differential projections. Thus, the anterior and lateral parts of the LHA also appear to project substantially to the anterior hypothalamic area, the ventromedial and dorsomedial hypothalamic nuclei, the parataenial and paraventricular nuclei of the thalamus, and the medial part of the lateral habenular nucleus. Similarly, cells in the tuberal and posterior parts of the LHA project to the central gray, the longest projections from the posterior region reaching as far caudally as the central tegmental field, the parabrachial nucleus, the locus coeruleus, and the superior central and dorsal nuclei of the raphe. Viewed as a whole, the LHA is therefore well-suited to integrate inputs from the limbic system and brainstem and to relay them on the one hand to the medial zone of the hypothalamus and on the other to virtually every structure closely associated with the medical forebrain bundle and to the nuclei of origin of the major ascending monoaminergic systems.