Topography and synaptology of mamillary body projections to the mesencephalon and pons in the rat

J Comp Neurol. 1990 Nov 8;301(2):214-31. doi: 10.1002/cne.903010206.

Abstract

The anterograde and retrograde transport of horseradish peroxidase conjugated to wheat germ agglutinin (WGA-HRP) was used to study the anatomical organization of descending projections from the mamillary body (MB) to the mesencephalon and pons at light and electron microscopic levels. Injections of WGA-HRP into the medial mamillary nucleus resulted in dense anterograde and retrograde labeling in the ventral tegmental nucleus, while injections in the lateral mamillary nucleus resulted in dense anterograde labeling in the dorsal tegmental nucleus pars dorsalis and dense anterograde and retrograde labeling in the pars ventralis of the dorsal tegmental nucleus. Anterogradely labeled fibers in the mamillotegmental tract diverged from the principal mamillary tract in an extensive dorsocaudally oriented swath of axons which extended to the dorsal and ventral tegmental nuclei, and numerous axons turned sharply ventrally and rostrally to terminate topographically in the dorsomedial nucleus reticularis tegmenti pontis and rostromedial pontine nuclei. The anterograde labeling in these two precerebellar relay nuclei was distributed near the midline such that projections from the lateral mamillary nucleus terminated mainly dorsomedial to the terminal fields of projections from the medial mamillary nucleus. In the dorsal and ventral tegmental nuclei, labeled axon terminals contained round synaptic vesicles and formed asymmetric synaptic junctions primarily with small diameter dendrites and to a lesser extent with neuronal somata. A few labeled terminals contained pleomorphic vesicles and formed symmetric synaptic junctions with dendrites and neuronal somata. Labeled axon terminals were also frequently found in synaptic contact with retrogradely labeled dendrites and neuronal somata in the dorsal and ventral tegmental nuclei. These findings indicate that neurons in the dorsal and ventral tegmental nuclei are reciprocally connected with MB projection neurons. In the nucleus reticularis tegmenti pontis and medial pontine nuclei, labeled axon terminals contained round synaptic vesicles and formed asymmetric synaptic junctions primarily with small diameter dendrites. The present study demonstrates that projections from the medial and lateral nuclei of the MB are topographically organized in the mesencephalon and pons. The synaptic morphology of mamillotegmental projections suggests that they may have excitatory influences primarily on the distal dendrites of neurons in these brain regions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Afferent Pathways / anatomy & histology
  • Animals
  • Axonal Transport
  • Axons / ultrastructure
  • Efferent Pathways / anatomy & histology
  • Horseradish Peroxidase
  • Male
  • Mammillary Bodies / anatomy & histology*
  • Mesencephalon / anatomy & histology*
  • Mesencephalon / cytology
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Pons / anatomy & histology*
  • Pons / cytology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains / anatomy & histology*
  • Wheat Germ Agglutinin-Horseradish Peroxidase Conjugate
  • Wheat Germ Agglutinins

Substances

  • Wheat Germ Agglutinin-Horseradish Peroxidase Conjugate
  • Wheat Germ Agglutinins
  • Horseradish Peroxidase