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A direct projection from the medial vestibular nucleus to the cervical spinal dorsal horn of the rat, as demonstrated by anterograde and retrograde tracing

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Phaseolus vulgaris leucoagglutinin and wheat germ agglutinin-horseradish peroxidase were iontophoretically injected into different parts of the vestibular nuclear complex (VNC) of the rat. Injections centered into the caudal part of the medial vestibular nucleus revealed a vestibulospinal projection predominantly to the dorsal horn of the cervical spinal cord, besides the expected projection to the intermediate zone (IZ) and ventral horn (VH). While most of the anterogradely labelled fibres could be localized in laminae III to V, some scattered fibres were also seen in laminae I and VI. Lamina II remained free of labelling. The dorsal horn (DH) area with detectable anterograde labelling showed a rostrocaudal extension from C1-C6. Injections into other parts of the VNC labelled fibres and terminals in the IZ and VH while the DH remained almost free of labelling. Additionally, fluorogold and wheat germ agglutininhorseradish peroxidase were pressure- or iontophoretically injected at different levels into the spinal cord to confirm the projection to the dorsal horn by means of retrograde tracing. Labelled neurons in the area of the medial vestibular nucleus (MVN), from which anterograde labelling in the DH was obtained, were only detectable after fluorogold and wheat germ agglutinin-horseradish peroxidase injections into the cervical spinal cord, in particular its DH. This projection from the caudal medial vestibular nucleus to the dorsal horn of the cervical spinal cord probably enables the VNC to influence sensory processing in the DH, in addition to its well-established influence on posture and locomotion via projections to the intermediate zone and ventral horn.

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bovine serum albumin

CuN :

cuneate nucleus


central cervical nucleus

cMVN :

caudal medial vestibular nucleus

cVST :

caudal vestibulospinal tract



DH :

dorsal horn


dorsal root ganglia


descending vestibular nucleus


external cuneate nucleus


fetal calf serum

FG :



horseradish peroxidase

icp :

inferior cerebellar peduncle

In :

intercalated nucleus

IZ :

intermediate zone


lateral vestibular nucleus


lateral vestibulospinal tract

mlf :

medial longitudinal fasciculus


medial vestibular nucleus


medial vestibulospinal tract


Phaseolus vulgaris leucoagglutinin

PrH :

praepositus hypoglossi nucleus

rMVN :

rostral medial vestibular nucleus

Ro :

Roller's nucleus


superior vestibular nucleus



VH :

ventral horn


vestibular nuclear complex


wheat germ agglutinin-horseradish peroxidase

12 :

hypoglossal nucleus


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Dedicated to Prof. J.W. Rohen on the occasion of his 70th birthday

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Bankoul, S., Neuhuber, W.L. A direct projection from the medial vestibular nucleus to the cervical spinal dorsal horn of the rat, as demonstrated by anterograde and retrograde tracing. Anat Embryol 185, 77–85 (1992). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00213603

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Key words

  • Vestibular nuclei
  • Spinal cord
  • Dorsal horn
  • Tracing study
  • Rat