Anatomical studies of the spinocervical tract of the rat

Martha L. Baker, Glenn J. Giesler

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The retrograde transport of horseradish peroxidase (HRP) was used to identify and examine the cells of origin of the spinocervical tract (SCt) in the rat. Initially, precise data on the boundaries of the rat lateral cervical nucleus (LCn) were gathered after injecting HRP into the ventrobasal thalamus. These data indicated that the LCn of the rat is restricted to a region on the extreme lateral edge of the dorsalmost portion of the lateral funiculus (DLf) within spinal segment C2 Following small iontophoretic injections of HRP that were restricted to this area, labeled SCt neurons were found in the ipsilateral nucleus proprius at all levels of the spinal cord but were most numerous in the cervical enlargement. Lesion studies indicated that the overwhelming majority of SCt axons ascend to the LCn within the DLf. In an attempt to determine whether our injection techniques labeled a significant number of cells through axons of passage, HRP injections were made in the DLf ventral to the LCn. Such injections labeled, presumably through axons of passage, cells in several areas of the spinal cord gray matter, including a large number in the contralateral marginal zone Injections in areas immediately rostral to the LCn labeled 20% or less of the total number of cells within the enlargements that were labeled by injections into the LCn. Thus, the majority of cells labeled by injections of HRP into the LCn were labeled through preterminal fibers or terminals themselves. The cells of origin of the SCt in the rat are similar in location to those in the cat but far fewer in number.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalSomatosensory & Motor Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1984

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.


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