Reciprocal connections between the medial preoptic area and the midbrain periaqueductal gray in rat: A WGA‐HRP and PHA‐L study

Tilat A. Rizvi, Matthew Ennis, Michael T. Shipley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

The midbrain periaqueductal gray (PAG) participates in diverse functions such as analgesia, autonomic regulation, sexual behavior, and defense/escape responses. Anatomical studies of the circuits involved in such functions have largely focused on the connections of PAG with the medulla. Projections to PAG from forebrain structures are extensive, but their organization has received little attention. Previous anatomic studies indicate that the medial preoptic area (MPO), involved in a variety of physiological and behavioral functions, is a major source of afferent input to the periaqueductal gray. Here, we have examined the topography of reciprocal connections between these two structures in the rat by using wheat germ agglutinin conjugated horseradish peroxidase (WGA‐HRP) and Phaseolus vulgaris leucoagglutinin (PHA‐L). Multiple WGA‐HRP injections at several rostrocaudal levels of PAG retrogradely labeled large numbers of neurons in the medial preoptic area; labeled cells were primarily located in the medial preoptic nucleus, the median preoptic nucleus, and the region lateral to the medial preoptic nucleus. The distribution of labeled cells shifted medially to laterally along the rostral to caudal axis of the medial preoptic area. Rostrally, there was selective retrograde labeling in the central and lateral divisions of medial preoptic nucleus, whereas caudally, labeled cells were primarily located only in the lateral subdivision of medial preoptic nucleus. Tracer injections, in PAG also produced strong anterograde labeling in MPO. WGA‐HRP and PHA‐L injections in the medial preoptic area resulted in dense anterograde labeling along the entire rostrocaudal axis of PAG. The terminal labeling in PAG from the medial preoptic area was not uniformly distributed throughout PAG, however. Instead, this projection formed one or two rostrocaudally oriented longitudinal columns that terminated in different subregions of PAG along the entire rostrocaudal axis of this structure. Rostrally, inputs from the medial preoptic area project heavily to dorsomedial PAG, and at mid‐PAG levels, the projection becomes distinctly bipartite with two discrete longitudinal terminal columns in dorsomedial and lateral PAG; caudally, the heaviest labeling is in ventrolateral PAG. The projection also exhibited a central to peripheral (radial) gradient; labelled fibers and terminals were heaviest near the aqueduct and much lower in the peripheral parts of PAG. WGA‐HRP injections in MPO also produced retrograde labeling of neurons at all rostrocaudal levels of PAG; more neurons were labeled in the rostral than the caudal half of PAG. The majority of labeled cells were located in dorsomedial and ventral/ventrolateral parts of PAG; only a few neurons in the dorsal raphe region appear to project to MPO. The present findings suggest that connections between PAG and MPO are heavy, reciprocal, and spatially organized. This circuitry may play important roles in forebrain—brainstem integration of thermoregulation, analgesia, and maternal and reproductive behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Volume315
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1992

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Periaqueductal Gray
Wheat Germ Agglutinins
Preoptic Area
Horseradish Peroxidase
Mesencephalon
plants leukoagglutinins
Neurons
Injections
Analgesia
Maternal Behavior
Reproductive Behavior
Body Temperature Regulation

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuroscience(all)

Cite this

Reciprocal connections between the medial preoptic area and the midbrain periaqueductal gray in rat : A WGA‐HRP and PHA‐L study. / Rizvi, Tilat A.; Ennis, Matthew; Shipley, Michael T.

In: Journal of Comparative Neurology, Vol. 315, No. 1, 01.01.1992, p. 1-15.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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