Neurons in the caudalmost ventrolateral medulla (cmVLM) respond to noxious stimulation. We previously have shown most efferent projections from this locus project to areas implicated either in the processing or modulation of pain. Here we show the cmVLM of the rat receives projections from superficial laminae of the medullary dorsal horn (MDH) and has neurons activated with capsaicin injections into the temporalis muscle. Injections of either biotinylated dextran amine (BDA) into the MDH or fluorogold (FG)/fluorescent microbeads into the cmVLM showed projections from lamina I and II of the MDH to the cmVLM. Morphometric analysis showed the retrogradely-labeled neurons were small (area 88.7 µm(2)±3.4) and mostly fusiform in shape. Injections (20-50 µl) of 0.5% capsaicin into the temporalis muscle and subsequent immunohistochemistry for c-Fos showed nuclei labeled in the dorsomedial trigeminocervical complex (TCC), the cmVLM, the lateral medulla, and the internal lateral subnucleus of the parabrachial complex (PBil). Additional labeling with c-Fos was seen in the subnucleus interpolaris of the spinal trigeminal nucleus, the rostral ventrolateral medulla, the superior salivatory nucleus, the rostral ventromedial medulla, and the A1, A5, A7 and subcoeruleus catecholamine areas. Injections of FG into the PBil produced robust label in the lateral medulla and cmVLM while injections of BDA into the lateral medulla showed projections to the PBil. Immunohistochemical experiments to antibodies against substance P, the substance P receptor (NK1), calcitonin gene regulating peptide, leucine enkephalin, VRL1 (TPRV2) receptors and neuropeptide Y showed that these peptides/receptors densely stained the cmVLM. We suggest the MDH- cmVLM projection is important for pain from head and neck areas. We offer a potential new pathway for regulating deep pain via the neurons of the TCC, the cmVLM, the lateral medulla, and the PBil and propose these areas compose a trigeminoreticular pathway, possibly the trigeminal homologue of the spinoreticulothalamic pathway.
The mammalian diving response is a powerful autonomic adjustment to underwater submersion greatly affecting heart rate, arterial blood pressure, and ventilation. The bradycardia is mediated by the parasympathetic nervous system, arterial blood pressure is mediated via the sympathetic system and still other circuits mediate the respiratory changes. In the present study we investigate the cardiorespiratory responses and the brainstem neurons activated by voluntary diving of trained rats, and, compare them to control and swimming animals which did not dive. We show that the bradycardia and increase in arterial blood pressure induced by diving were significantly different than that induced by swimming. Neuronal activation was calculated after immunohistochemical processing of brainstem sections for Fos protein. Labeled neurons were counted in the caudal pressor area, the medullary dorsal horn, subnuclei of the nucleus tractus solitarii (NTS), the nucleus raphe pallidus (RPa), the rostroventrolateral medulla, the A5 area, the nucleus locus coeruleus, the Kölliker-Fuse area, and the external lateral and superior lateral subnuclei of the parabrachial nucleus. All these areas showed significant increases in Fos labeling when data from voluntary diving rats were compared to control rats and all but the commissural subnucleus of the NTS, A5 area, and RPa were significantly different from swimming rats. These data provide a substrate for more precise experiments to determine the role of these nuclei in the reflex circuits driving the diving response.
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