Organization of sensory and motor nuclei of the trigeminal nerve in lampreys



Anterograde and retrograde HRP transport were used to elucidate the primary central projections of the trigeminal nerve in a lamprey, Lampetra japonica, by application to the ophthalmic, apical, basilar, suborbital, and mandibular branches of the trigeminal nerve. (1) Most of the trigeminal and a few facial ganglion cells were labeled. The ganglion cells of each nerve were distributed in separate areas within their respective ganglia. (2) Some ipsilateral medullary and spinal dorsal cells were labeled after HRP application to the ophthalmic and apical nerves, but there was no contralateral labeling. (3) Most of the neurons of the trigeminal motor nucleus were labeled, and when the apical or the basilar nerve was labeled, in each case a cluster of small motor neurons was found ventrolateral to the classic motor nucleus. (4) Miscellaneous neurons were found scattered along the course of the descending trigeminal tract and nucleus in all cases except after application to the mandibular branch. The shape, size, and distribution patterns of these neurons were varied, and several characteristics indicated that they were sensory in nature. (5) In the rostral part of the medulla, sensory fibers of each nerve showed restricted localization within the descending trigeminal tract and nucleus. When compared to the distribution of the same fibers in the hagfish Eptatretus burgeri, another member of the cyclostomes, the distribution pattern in the lampreys studied was closer to the type seen in gnathostomes.