Ascending and descending propriospinal pathways between lumbar and cervical segments in the rat: evidence for a substantial ascending excitatory pathway

Brockett, E.F., Seenan, P.G., Bannatyne, B.A. and Maxwell, D.J. (2013) Ascending and descending propriospinal pathways between lumbar and cervical segments in the rat: evidence for a substantial ascending excitatory pathway. Neuroscience, 240, pp. 83-97. (doi:10.1016/j.neuroscience.2013.02.039)

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Abstract

Precise mechanisms are required to coordinate the locomotor activity of fore- and hind-limbs in quadrupeds and similar mechanisms persist to coordinate movement of arms and legs in humans. Propriospinal neurons (PSNs) are major components of the networks that coordinate these mechanisms. The b subunit of cholera toxin (CTb) was injected unilaterally into either L1 or L3 segments in order to label ascending and descending propriospinal pathways. Labelled cells were examined with light or confocal microscopy. Cells projecting to lumbar segments were evenly distributed, bilaterally throughout all cervical segments. However many more cells were labelled from L1 injections than L3 injections. Roughly 15% of cells in both sides of the C2 segment was found to be immunoreactive for calretinin and a small number (4%) was immunoreactive for calbindin. Axons projecting from L1 to cervical segments formed predominant ipsilateral projections to the cervical intermediate grey matter and ventral horn. Very large numbers of terminals were concentrated within the ventrolateral motor (VLM) nuclei of C7–8 segments but there was sparse innervation of the contralateral nucleus. The vast majority (85%) of these axon terminals in the ipsilateral VML was immunoreactive for the vesicular glutamate transporter 2 (VGLUT2) and the remaining 15% was immunoreactive for the vesicular GABA transporter (VGAT); many of these contained GABA and/or glycine. Inhibitory and excitatory terminals were also found in the contralateral VLM. Most of the terminals in the VLM made contacts with motoneurons. The major finding of this study is the existence of a substantial excitatory propriospinal pathway that projects specifically to the VLM. Motoneurons in the VLM supply muscles of the axilla therefore this pathway is likely to have a profound influence on the activity of the shoulder joint. This pathway may synchronise lumbar and cervical pattern generators and hence the coordination of locomotor activity in the fore- and hind limbs.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Bannatyne, Dr Anne and Maxwell, Professor David
Authors: Brockett, E.F., Seenan, P.G., Bannatyne, B.A., and Maxwell, D.J.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology
Journal Name:Neuroscience
ISSN:0306-4522

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