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Axonal Projections And Synapses From The Supratrigeminal Region To Hypoglossal Motoneurons In The Rat

P. Luo, D. Dessem, Jingdong Zhang
Published 2001 · Biology, Medicine

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Neural circuits from the supratrigeminal region (Vsup) to the hypoglossal motor nucleus were studied in rats using anterograde and retrograde neuroanatomical tracing methodologies. Iontophoretic injection of 10% biotinylated dextran amine (BDA) unilaterally into the Vsup anterogradely labeled axons and axon terminals bilaterally in the hypoglossal nucleus (XII) as well as other regions of the brainstem. In the ipsilateral XII, the highest density of BDA labeling was found in the dorsal compartment and the ventromedial subcompartment of the ventral compartment, where BDA labeling formed a dense, patchy distribution. Microinjection of 20% horseradish peroxidase (HRP) ipsilaterally or bilaterally into the tongue resulted in retrograde labeling of XII motoneurons confined to the dorsal and ventral compartments of the hypoglossal motor nucleus. Under light microscopical examination, BDA-labeled terminals were observed closely apposing the somata and primary dendrites of HRP-labeled hypoglossal motoneurons. Two hundred and sixty-five of these BDA-labeled terminals were examined at the ultrastructural level. One hundred and twelve BDA-labeled axon terminals were observed synapsing with either the somata (39%, 44/112) or the large or medium-size dendrites (61%, 68/112) of retrogradely labeled hypoglossal motoneurons. Axon terminals containing spherical vesicles (S-type) formed asymmetric synapses with HRP-labeled hypoglossal motoneuron dendrites. In contrast to this, F(F)-type axon terminals, containing flattened vesicles, formed symmetric synapses with both the somata and dendrites of HRP-labeled hypoglossal motoneurons with a preponderance of the contacts on their somata. Axon terminals containing pleomorphic vesicles (F(P)-type) were noted forming both symmetric and asymmetric synapses with HRP-labeled hypoglossal motoneuron somata and dendrites. The present study provides anatomical evidence of neuronal projections and synaptic connections from the supratrigeminal region to hypoglossal motoneurons. These data suggest that the supratrigeminal region, as one of the premotor neuronal pools of the hypoglossal nucleus, may coordinate and modulate the activity of tongue muscles during oral motor behaviors.
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