The parasubthalamic nucleus (PSTN) is a differentiation of the lateral hypothalamic area, characterized by a distinct population of neurons expressing beta-preprotachykinin (beta-PPT) mRNA. The axonal projections from the PSTN have been analyzed with the PHAL anterograde tract tracing method in rats. The results indicate that the cell group is distinguished by massive projections to parasympathetic preganglionic neurons in the brainstem (especially in the salivatory nuclei and dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus nerve) and to parts of the parabrachial nucleus and nucleus of the solitary tract that relay viscerosensory and gustatory information. In addition, the PSTN projects to cortical parts of the cerebral hemisphere (infralimbic, agranular insular, postpiriform transition and lateral entorhinal areas, and posterior basolateral amygdalar nucleus)-directly and also indirectly via thalamic feedback loops involving the paraventricular and mediodorsal nuclei-and to nuclear parts of the cerebral hemisphere (central amygdalar nucleus, striatal fundus, rhomboid nucleus of the bed nuclei of the stria terminalis, and substantia innominata). The PSTN is thus positioned to influence directly many cerebral hemisphere and hindbrain components of the central parasympathetic control network that is active, for example, during feeding behavior and cardiovascular regulation.
Copyright 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.