Efferent projections of rat rostroventrolateral medulla C1 catecholamine neurons: Implications for the central control of cardiovascular regulation

J Comp Neurol. 2006 Dec 10;499(5):840-59. doi: 10.1002/cne.21140.


A replication-defective lentivirus vector that expresses enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) under the control of a synthetic dopamine-beta-hydroxylase (DbetaH) promoter was used to define efferent projections of C1 catecholamine neurons in rat rostral ventrolateral medulla (RVLM). EGFP expression was restricted to C1 neurons and filled their somatodendritic compartments and efferent axons 7-28 days after vector injection. This included the descending projections to thoracic spinal cord and a network in brainstem, midbrain, and diencephalon. In caudal brainstem, restricted terminal fields were present in the dorsal motor vagal complex, A1, raphe pallidus and obscurus, and marginal layer of ventrolateral medulla. Innervation of raphe nuclei was most dense at the level of RVLM, but rostral levels of pallidus were devoid of innervation. A sparse commissural projection to contralateral RVLM was observed, and pericellular arbors were present in the dorsal reticular formation among the projection pathway of catecholamine axons. Rostral brainstem contained a dense innervation of locus coeruleus and the nucleus subcoeruleus. A restricted innervation of the ventrolateral column of the periaqueductal gray distinguished the midbrain. Forebrain labeling was restricted to the diencephalon, where distinctive terminal fields were observed in the paraventricular thalamic nucleus; the lateral hypothalamic area; and the paraventricular, dorsomedial, supraoptic, and median preoptic nuclei of hypothalamus. Projection fibers also coursed through the tuberal hypothalamus into the median eminence. Collectively, these data demonstrate that RVLM C1 neurons modulate the activity of other central cell groups known to participate in the regulation of cardiovascular and autonomic function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cardiovascular Physiological Phenomena*
  • Catecholamines / metabolism*
  • Dopamine beta-Hydroxylase / genetics
  • Efferent Pathways / anatomy & histology*
  • Genes, Reporter
  • Genetic Vectors
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / genetics
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Lentivirus / genetics
  • Lentivirus / metabolism
  • Male
  • Medulla Oblongata / anatomy & histology*
  • Neurons / chemistry*
  • Neurons / cytology*
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • Catecholamines
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Dopamine beta-Hydroxylase