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Terminations of reticulospinal fibers originating from the gigantocellular reticular formation in the mouse spinal cord

Abstract

The present study investigated the projections of the gigantocellular reticular nucleus (Gi) and its neighbors—the dorsal paragigantocellular reticular nucleus (DPGi), the alpha/ventral part of the gigantocellular reticular nucleus (GiA/V), and the lateral paragigantocellular reticular nucleus (LPGi)—to the mouse spinal cord by injecting the anterograde tracer biotinylated dextran amine (BDA) into the Gi, DPGi, GiA/GiV, and LPGi. The Gi projected to the entire spinal cord bilaterally with an ipsilateral predominance. Its fibers traveled in both the ventral and lateral funiculi with a greater presence in the ventral funiculus. As the fibers descended in the spinal cord, their density in the lateral funiculus increased. The terminals were present mainly in laminae 7–10 with a dorsolateral expansion caudally. In the lumbar and sacral cord, a considerable number of terminals were also present in laminae 5 and 6. Contralateral fibers shared a similar pattern to their ipsilateral counterparts and some fibers were seen to cross the midline. Fibers arising from the DPGi were similarly distributed in the spinal cord except that there was no dorsolateral expansion in the lumbar and sacral segments and there were fewer fiber terminals. Fibers arising from GiA/V predominantly traveled in the ventral and lateral funiculi ipsilaterally. Ipsilaterally, the density of fibers in the ventral funiculus decreased along the rostrocaudal axis, whereas the density of fibers in the lateral funiculus increased. They terminate mainly in the medial ventral horn and lamina 10 with a smaller number of fibers in the dorsal horn. Fibers arising from the LPGi traveled in both the ventral and lateral funiculi and the density of these fibers in the ventral and lateral funiculi decreased dramatically in the lumbar and sacral segments. Their terminals were present in the ventral horn with a large portion of them terminating in the motor neuron columns. The present study is the first demonstration of the termination pattern of fibers arising from the Gi, DPGi, GiA/GiV, and LPGi in the mouse spinal cord. It provides an anatomical foundation for those who are conducting spinal cord injury and locomotion related research.

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Acknowledgments

This work was supported by the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Integrative Brain Function (ARC Centre Grant CE140100007). George Paxinos is supported by an NHMRC Senior Principal Research Fellowship (APP1043626). We thank Dr. Emma Schofield for proof reading this manuscript.

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Correspondence to Huazheng Liang.

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Liang, H., Watson, C. & Paxinos, G. Terminations of reticulospinal fibers originating from the gigantocellular reticular formation in the mouse spinal cord. Brain Struct Funct 221, 1623–1633 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00429-015-0993-z

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Keywords

  • Gigantocellular reticular nucleus
  • Paragigantocellular nucleus
  • Spinal cord
  • Medullary reticulospinal tract
  • Locomotion
  • Blood pressure control