, Volume 30, Issue 8, pp 695-704

Lamination of spinal cells projecting to the zona incerta of rats

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Abstract

In this study, the lamination patterns of spinal cells projecting to the zona incerta (ZI), intralaminar nuclei and ventral posterior nucleus of the thalamus have been explored. Injections of cholera toxin subunit B or latex beads were made into the ZI, intralaminar and ventral posterior nuclei of Sprague Dawley rats. The brain and spinal cord were then aldehyde fixed and processed using standard methods. Our results show two major findings. First, after injections into the ZI, there is a distinct pattern of lamination of labelled cells in the spinal cord, a pattern that changes across the different levels. At cervical levels, labelled cells are located within the medial region of the deep dorsal horn, while at lumbar and sacral levels, they are found in the intermediate grey matter. These results are similar to those seen after injections into the intralaminar or ventral posterior nuclei, except that in the latter cases, more labelled cells are located in the superficial laminae of the dorsal horn, particularly from the ventral posterior nucleus. Second, the ZI is not associated uniformly with all spinal levels; labelling is heaviest at cervical and lightest at thoracic levels. From each thalamic injection site, labelling is noted on both sides of the spinal cord, with a clear contralateral predominance. In conclusion, the results indicate that the ZI receives a distinct set of spinal projections principally from the cervical level. The particular pattern of lamination of spinal cells projecting to the ZI suggests that the type of information relayed is from deep somatic and/or visceral structures, and probably nociceptive in nature.