Intrinsic and efferent connections of the endopiriform nucleus in rat

J Comp Neurol. 1999 Jun 14;408(4):532-48.


The endopiriform nucleus is a large group of multipolar cells located deep to the piriform cortex. The function of this nucleus is unknown, but studies with animal models suggest that it plays an important role in temporal lobe epileptogenesis. To address questions concerning mechanisms of epileptogenesis and to gain insights into its normal function, efferent axons from the endopiriform nucleus were labeled by anterograde transport from small extracellular injections of Phaseolus vulgaris leucoagglutinin. Several principles of organization were derived: (1) heavy local and long intrinsic connections are present throughout the endopiriform nucleus; (2) endopiriform efferents target cortical rather than nuclear structures; (3) extensive projections from the endopiriform nucleus extend to most basal forebrain areas including the piriform cortex, entorhinal cortex, insular cortex, orbital cortex, and all cortical amygdaloid areas. The perirhinal cortex, olfactory tubercle, and most subdivisions of the hippocampal formation receive light projections; (4) projections are highly distributed spatially within all target areas; (5) efferent axons from the endopiriform nucleus are unmyelinated and give rise to boutons along their entire course rather than arborizing locally; and (6) the endopiriform nucleus and piriform cortex share target areas, but efferents from the endopiriform nucleus lack the precise laminar order of those from the piriform cortex, and provide a heavy caudal to rostral pathway that is lacking in the cortex. The significance of these findings for the triggering of generalized seizures from the deep piriform region are discussed. An hypothesis for a role of the endopiriform nucleus in memory storage is presented.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amygdala / anatomy & histology
  • Amygdala / physiology
  • Animals
  • Axons / physiology
  • Efferent Pathways / anatomy & histology
  • Efferent Pathways / physiology
  • Hippocampus / anatomy & histology
  • Hippocampus / physiology
  • Histocytochemistry
  • Olfactory Bulb / anatomy & histology
  • Olfactory Bulb / physiology
  • Olfactory Pathways / anatomy & histology*
  • Olfactory Pathways / physiology
  • Phytohemagglutinins
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Terminology as Topic


  • Phytohemagglutinins
  • leukoagglutinins, plants