Transneuronal labeling of CNS neuropeptide and monoamine neurons after pseudorabies virus injections into the stellate ganglion

A. S.P. Jansen, M. W. Wessendorf, A. D. Loewy

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The viral transneuronal labeling method was used in combination with immunohistochemical procedures to identify CNS neuropeptide and monoamine neurons that innervate the sympathetic preganglionic neuron (SPNs) which project to the stellate ganglion-the principal source of the sympathetic supply to the heart. Transneuronal labeling was found at three CNS levels: spinal cord, brainstem, and hypothalamus. In the thoracic spinal cord, apart from the pseudorabies virus (PRV)-labeled stellate SPNs, PRV-labeled neurons were localized in laminae I/II, IV, V, VII, and X as well as in the lateral spinal nucleus and lateral funiculus. In the C1-C4 spinal segments, labeled neurons were found in the lateral funiculus as well as laminae V and VII of the spinal gray matter. PRV-labeled cells were identified in lamina V and the dorsolateral funiculus of the lumbar spinal cord. Three medullary areas were consistently labeled: rostral ventromedial medulla (RVMM), rostral ventrolateral medulla (RVLM), and caudal raphe nuclei. The greatest concentration of labeling was found in the RVMM. This projection arose from adrenergic, serotonergic (5-HT), thyrotropin releasing hormone (TRH), substance P, somatostatin, enkephalin, and vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) immunoreactive neurons. The RVLM projection originated mainly from C1 adrenergic neurons, some of which contained immunoreactive neuropeptide Y (NPY). C3 adrenergic-NPY neurons lying near the floor of the 4th ventricle were also labeled. Enkephalin-, somatostatin- and VIP-immunoreactive RVLM neurons also contributed to this projection. 5-HT neurons of the caudal raphe nuclei (raphe pallidus, raphe obscurus, and raphe magnus) were labeled; some of these contained substance P or TRH-immunoreactivity with an occasional neuron staining for all three putative neurotransmitters. In the pons, catecholamine neurons in the A5 cell group, subcoeruleus and Kolliker-Fuse nuclei were labeled. The midbrain contained relatively few infected cells, but some were present in the Edinger-Westphal and precommissural nuclei. Forebrain labeling was concentrated in the paraventricular hypothalamic nucleus (PVN) with lesser amounts in the lateral hypothalamic area (LHA) and the perifornical region. In the PVN, oxytocin-immunoreactive neurons accounted for the greatest chemically-defined projection while corticotrophin releasing factor (CRF), vasopressin-, and angiotensin II-immunoreactive neurons provided successively lesser inputs. In the LHA, angiotensin II-immunoreactive neurons were labeled. In summary, this study provides the first detailed map of the chemically-coded CNS neurons involved in the control of the cardiosympathetic outflow.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-24
Number of pages24
JournalBrain Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 12 1995


  • Autonomic nervous system
  • Cardiovascular regulation
  • Corticotrophin releasing reactor
  • Enkephalin
  • Heart
  • Lateral hypothalamic area
  • Medulla oblongata
  • Neuropeptide Y
  • Oxytocin
  • Paraventricular hypothalamic nucleus
  • Pseudorabies virus
  • Raphe nuclei
  • Serotonin
  • Somatostatin
  • Stellate ganglion
  • Sympathetic nervous system
  • Vasoactive intestinal polypeptide


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