Spinal projections of the locus coeruleus and the nucleus subcoeruleus in the Harlan and the Sasco Sprague-Dawley rat

Brain Res. 1992 May 1;579(1):67-73. doi: 10.1016/0006-8993(92)90742-r.


The descending projections of the locus coeruleus (LC) and the nucleus subcoeruleus (SC) to the lumbar spinal cord were examined in rats from two vendors using retrograde transport of fluorescent latex beads. There was a vendor difference observed which agrees with previous findings. The differential dorsal horn and ventral horn projections of the Harlan and the Sasco Sprague-Dawley rats, reported by Fritschy and Grzanna, and Clark and Proudfit were confirmed. In the Harlan rat more cells were labeled in the LC following injections in the dorsal horn. In contrast, in the Sasco rat, more cells were labeled in the LC from injections in the ventral horn. Although, in all studies, the LC in rats from these vendors projected to some extent to both the dorsal and the ventral horn. A difference in labeling was noted also for the depth of placement of the tracer in the dorsal horn. When the site of injection was in the nucleus proprius, a predominantly contralateral projection of the LC was noted. In contrast, when horseradish peroxidase (HRP) gel implants were placed to include the superficial laminae, the cells in the LC were labeled predominantly ipsilaterally. The SC has a major projection to the dorsal horn in the Harlan rats while cells in the SC were predominantly labeled following ventral horn injection in the Sasco rats. These cells send mostly ipsilateral projections to the dorsal and ventral horn of the spinal cord. Double labeled studies confirmed that 91% of LC and 86% of SC neurons projecting to the spinal cord were noradrenergic.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dopamine beta-Hydroxylase / immunology
  • Horseradish Peroxidase
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Locus Coeruleus / cytology
  • Locus Coeruleus / physiology*
  • Male
  • Neural Pathways / cytology
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Spinal Cord / cytology
  • Spinal Cord / physiology*


  • Horseradish Peroxidase
  • Dopamine beta-Hydroxylase