Projections from the nociceptive area of the central nucleus of the amygdala to the forebrain: a PHA-L study in the rat

Eur J Neurosci. 2001 Jul;14(2):229-55. doi: 10.1046/j.0953-816x.2001.01640.x.


The lateral capsular division (CeLC) of the central nucleus (Ce) of the amygdala, in the rat, has been shown to be the main terminal area of a spino(trigemino)-parabrachio-amygdaloid nociceptive pathway [Bernard & Besson (1990) J. Neurophysiol. 63, 473-490; Bernard et al. (1992) J. Neurophysiol. 68, 551-569; Bernard et al. (1993) J. Comp. Neurol. 329, 201-229]. The projections to the forebrain from the CeLC and adjacent regions were studied in the rat by using microinjections of Phaseolus vulgaris leucoagglutinin (PHA-L) restricted in subdivisions of the Ce and the basolateral amygdaloid nucleus anterior (BLA). Our data showed that the entire CeLC projects primarily and extensively to the substantia innominata dorsalis (SId). The terminal labelling is especially dense in the caudal aspect of the SId. The other projections of the CeLC in the forebrain were dramatically less dense. They terminate in the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BST) and the posterior hypothalamus (pLH). No (or only scarce) other projections were found in the remaining forebrain areas. The Ce lateral division (CeL) and the Ce medial division (CeM), adjacent to the CeLC, also project to the SId with slightly lower density labelling. However, contrary to the case of the CeLC, both the CeL and the CeM extensively project to the ventrolateral subnucleus of the BST (BSTvl) with a few additional terminals found in other regions of the lateral BST. Only the CeM projects densely to both the interstitial nucleus of the posterior limb of the anterior commissure and the caudal most portion of the pLH. The projections of the BLA are totally different from those of the Ce as they terminate in the dorsal striatum, the accumbens nucleus, the olfactory tubercle, the nucleus of olfactory tract and the rostral pole of the cingulate/frontal cortex. This study demonstrates that the major output of the nociceptive spino(trigemino)-parabrachio-CeLC pathway is to the SId. It is suggested that the CeLC-SId pathway could have an important role in anxiety, aversion and genesis of fear in response to noxious stimuli.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amygdala / cytology*
  • Amygdala / physiology
  • Animals
  • Axons / physiology
  • Axons / ultrastructure*
  • Corpus Striatum / cytology
  • Corpus Striatum / physiology
  • Efferent Pathways / cytology*
  • Efferent Pathways / physiology
  • Fluorescent Dyes / pharmacokinetics
  • Hypothalamus / cytology
  • Hypothalamus / physiology
  • Male
  • Nociceptors / cytology*
  • Nociceptors / physiology
  • Pain / pathology
  • Pain / physiopathology*
  • Phytohemagglutinins / pharmacokinetics
  • Prosencephalon / cytology*
  • Prosencephalon / physiology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Rhodamines / pharmacokinetics
  • Septal Nuclei / cytology
  • Septal Nuclei / physiology
  • Substantia Innominata / cytology
  • Substantia Innominata / physiology


  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Phytohemagglutinins
  • Rhodamines
  • leukoagglutinins, plants