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Keywords:

  • paraventricular hypothalamic nucleus;
  • nucleus raphe magnus;
  • nucleus raphe pallidus;
  • dorsal vagal nucleus;
  • solitary nucleus;
  • autoradiography

Abstract

The hypothalamus is closely involved in a wide variety of behavioral, autonomic, visceral, and endocrine functions. To find out which descending pathways are involved in these functions, we investigated them by horseradish peroxidase (HRP) and autoradiographic tracing techniques.

HRP injections at various levels of the spinal cord resulted in a nearly uniform distribution of HRP-labeled neurons in most areas of the hypothalamus except for the anterior part. After HRP injections in the raphe magnus (NRM) and adjoining tegmentum the distribution of labeled neurons was again uniform, but many were found in the anterior hypothalamus as well. Injections of 3H-leucine in the hypothalamus demonstrated that:

  • (1)
    The anterior hypothalamic area sent many fibers through the medial forebrain bundle (MFB) to terminate in the ventral tegmental area of Tsai (VTA), the rostral raphe nuclei, the nucleus Edinger-Westphal, the dorsal part of the substantia nigra, the periaqueductal gray (PAG), and the interpeduncular nuclei. Further caudally a lateral fiber stream (mainly derived from the lateral parts of the anterior hypothalamic area) distributed fibers to the parabrachial nuclei, nucleus subcoeruleus, locus coeruleus, the micturition-coordinating region, the caudal brainstem lateral tegmentum, and the solitary and dorsal vagal nucleus. Furthermore., a medial fiber stream (mainly derived from the medial parts of the anterior hypothalamic area) distributed fibers to the superior central and dorsal raphe nucleus and to the NRM, nucleus raphe pallidus (NRP), and adjoining tegmentum.
  • (2)
    The medial and posterior hypothalamic area including the paraventricular hypothalamic nucleus (PVN) sent fibers to approximately the same mesencephalic structures as the anterior hypothalamic area. Further caudally two different fiber bundles were observed. A medial stream distributed labeled fibers to the NRM, rostral NRP, the upper thoracic intermediolateral cell group, and spinal lamina X. A second and well-defined fiber stream, probably derived from the PVN, distributed many fibers to specific parts of the lateral tegmental field, to the solitary and dorsal vagal nuclei, and, in the spinal cord, to lamina I and X, to the thoracolumbar and sacral intermediolateral cell column, and to the nucleus of Onuf.
  • (3)
    The lateral hypothalamic area sent many labeled fibers to the lateral part of the brainstem and many terminated in the caudal brainstem lateral tegmentum, including the parabrachial nuclei, locus coeruleus, nucleus subcoeruleus, and the solitary and dorsal vagal nuclei. In the spinal cord labeled fibers were found in the intermediate zone, lamina X, and the thoracolumbar intermediolateral cell column.

A mediolateral organization of the hypothalamic projections to the caudal brainstem is proposed in which the PVN occupies a separate position.