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Excitatory And Inhibitory Innervation Of The Mouse Orofacial Motor Nuclei: A Stereological Study

Macarena Faunes, Alejandro Oñate-Ponce, Sara Fernández-Collemann, P. Henny
Published 2016 · Biology, Medicine

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Neurons in the trigeminal (Mo5), facial (Mo7), ambiguus (Amb), and hypoglossal (Mo12) motor nuclei innervate jaw, facial, pharynx/larynx/esophagus, and tongue muscles, respectively. They are essential for movements subserving feeding, exploration of the environment, and social communication. These neurons are largely controlled by sensory afferents and premotor neurons of the reticular formation, where central pattern generator circuits controlling orofacial movements are located. To provide a description of the orofacial nuclei of the adult mouse and to ascertain the influence of excitatory and inhibitory afferents upon them, we used stereology to estimate the number of motoneurons as well as of varicosities immunopositive for glutamate (VGluT1+, VGluT2+) and GABA/glycine (known as VIAAT+ or VGAT+) vesicular transporters in the Mo5, Mo7, Amb, and Mo12. Mo5, Mo7, Amb, and Mo12 contain ∼1,000, ∼3,000, ∼600, and ∼1,700 cells, respectively. VGluT1+, VGluT2+, and VIAAT+ varicosities respectively represent: 28%, 41%, and 31% in Mo5; 2%, 49%, and 49% in Mo7; 12%, 42%, and 46% in Amb; and 4%, 54%, and 42% in Mo12. The Mo5 jaw‐closing subdivision shows the highest VGluT1+ innervation. Noticeably, the VGluT2+ and VIAAT+ varicosity density in Mo7 is 5‐fold higher than in Mo5 and 10‐fold higher than in Amb and Mo12. The high density of terminals in Mo7 likely reflects the convergence and integration of numerous inputs to motoneurons subserving the wide range of complex behaviors to which this nucleus contributes. Also, somatic versus neuropil location of varicosities suggests that most of these afferents are integrated in the dendritic trees of Mo7 neurons. J. Comp. Neurol. 524:738–758, 2016. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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