Central origins of cranial nerve parasympathetic neurons in the rat

Robert J. Contreras, Maximo M. Gomez, Ralph Norgren

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The location of central neurons that contribute preganglionic parasympathetic axons to cranial nerves VII, IX, and X in rats has been identified using horseradish peroxidase (HRP) tracting methods. Collectively, these neurons form an uniterrupted dorsal column that extends over the entire length of the medulla. The cephalic end of this column turns ventrally with neurons scattered in the parvicellular reticular formation between the rotral pole of the nucleus of the solitary tract (NST) and the facial motor nucleus. Applying HRP crystals to the cut cervical vagus labels neurons in the classically defined dorsal motor nucleus. Rostrally, this distribution continues along the medial edge of NST, ending just caudal to neurons exiting in the lingual‐tonsilar branch of IX. At the rostral pole of the NST and ventral to it, neurons occur that serve the lingual‐tonsilar and tympanic branches of IX, as well as the chorda tympani and greater superficial petrosal (GSP) branches of VII. Central neurons of the chorda tympani and tympanic nerves spread ventrally from NST into a sparse but largely coextensive distribution in the reticular formation lateral to the ascending radiations of the facial motor nucleus. Immediately ventral to this distribution, a dense accumulation of GSP efferent neurons appears rostrolateral to the facial motor nucleus. Although they vary considerably in number and packing density, the neurons of the dorsal efferent column and those extending from it into the reticular formation have similar morphological characteristics. The somata are medium‐sized, fusiform, or multipolar, but with usually no more than five or six major processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)373-394
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 15 1980

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience


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