Organization of amygdaloid projections to brainstem dopaminergic, noradrenergic, and adrenergic cell groups in the rat

Brain Res Bull. 1992 Mar;28(3):447-54. doi: 10.1016/0361-9230(92)90046-z.


The distribution of amygdaloid axons in the various brainstem dopaminergic, noradrenergic, and adrenergic cell groups was examined. This was accomplished by means of the Phaseolus vulgaris leucoagglutinin lectin (PHA-L) anterograde tracing technique combined with glucose-oxidase immunocytochemistry to catecholamine markers (i.e., tyrosine hydroxylase, dopamine beta hydroxylase, and phenylethanolamine N-methyltransferase). Injections of PHA-L in the medial part of the central amygdaloid nucleus resulted in axonal and terminal labeling in most catecholamine cell groups in the brainstem. Amygdaloid terminals appeared to contract catecholaminergic cells in several brainstem regions. The most heavily innervated catecholaminergic cells were the A9 (lateral) and A8 dopaminergic cell groups and the C2/A2 adrenergic/noradrenergic cell groups in the nucleus of the solitary tract. The medial part of the A9 and adjacent A10 dopaminergic cell groups was moderately innervated. A moderate innervation by amygdaloid terminals was observed on rostral locus coeruleus noradrenergic cells (A6 rostral) and adrenergic cells of the rostral ventrolateral medulla (C1). Noradrenergic cells of the A5, main body of the locus coeruleus (A6), A7, and subcoeruleus were sparsely innervated. Amygdaloid axons were not observed on noradrenergic neurons of the A4 cell group, area postrema, and A1 cells of the ventrolateral medulla. The results demonstrate that the amygdala primarily innervates the dopaminergic cells of midbrain (i.e., A8 and lateral A9 cells) and the adrenergic cells (C2) and noradrenergic (A2) cells in the nucleus of the solitary tract. The possible functional significance of amygdaloid innervation of catecholaminergic cells is discussed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amygdala / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Axons / ultrastructure
  • Brain Stem / cytology
  • Brain Stem / physiology*
  • Diencephalon / cytology
  • Diencephalon / physiology
  • Dopamine / physiology*
  • Male
  • Medulla Oblongata / cytology
  • Medulla Oblongata / physiology
  • Mesencephalon / cytology
  • Mesencephalon / physiology
  • Nerve Endings / physiology
  • Nerve Endings / ultrastructure
  • Neural Pathways / cytology
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Norepinephrine / physiology*
  • Phytohemagglutinins
  • Pons / cytology
  • Pons / physiology
  • Rats
  • Sympathetic Nervous System / cytology
  • Sympathetic Nervous System / physiology*


  • Phytohemagglutinins
  • leukoagglutinins, plants
  • Dopamine
  • Norepinephrine