Ascending projections from the area around the spinal cord central canal: A Phaseolus vulgaris leucoagglutinin study in rats.
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A single small iontophoretic injection of Phaseolus vulgaris leucoagglutinin labels projections from the area surrounding the spinal cord central canal at midthoracic (T6-T9) or lumbosacral (L6-S1) segments of the spinal cord. The projections from the midthoracic or lumbosacral level of the medial spinal cord are found: 1) ascending ipsilaterally in the dorsal column near the dorsal intermediate septum or the midline of the gracile fasciculus, respectively; 2) terminating primarily in the dorsal, lateral rim of the gracile nucleus and the medial rim of the cuneate nucleus or the dorsomedial rim of the gracile nucleus, respectively; and 3) ascending bilaterally with slight contralateral predominance in the ventrolateral quadrant of the spinal cord and terminating in the ventral and medial medullary reticular formation. Other less dense projections are to the pons, midbrain, thalamus, hypothalamus, and other forebrain structures. Projections arising from the lumbosacral level are also found in Barrington's nucleus. The results of the present study support previous retrograde tract tracing and physiological studies from our group demonstrating that the neurons in the area adjacent to the central canal of the midthoracic or lumbosacral level of the spinal cord send long ascending projections to the dorsal column nucleus that are important in the transmission of second-order afferent information for visceral nociception. Thus, the axonal projections through both the dorsal and the ventrolateral white matter from the CC region terminate in many regions of the brain providing spinal input for sensory integration, autonomic regulation, motor and emotional responses, and limbic activation.Copyright 1999 Wiley-Liss, Inc.