The primate dorsal spinothalamic tract: evidence for a specific termination in the posterior nuclei (Po/SG) of the thalamus

Pain. 1992 Jan;48(1):107-18. doi: 10.1016/0304-3959(92)90137-z.


The spinothalamic tract in primates and other mammals arises primarily from cells in lamina I of the dorsal horn, from lamina V cells and to a lesser extent from other laminae. Most of the neurons of lamina I respond only to noxious mechanical or thermal stimuli. Spinothalamic tract (STT) cells of lamina V tend to respond to both innocuous and noxious stimuli. Recent studies have suggested that the classical STT in the anterolateral quadrant (ALQ) contains primarily the axons of lamina V cells and that the axons of lamina I cells travel more dorsally in the dorsolateral quadrant (DLQ) to constitute the dorsal spinothalamic tract (DSTT). Using the anterograde transport of wheat germ agglutinin conjugated to horseradish peroxidase (WGA-HRP) injected into the spinal cord in conjunction with a contralateral anterolateral cordotomy, we have found there is a substantial projection of the DSTT to the posterior nuclei of the caudal-ventral thalamus, designated Po/SG. This projection is almost entirely abolished when the lesion includes the area of spinal cord white matter at the level of the denticulate ligament. Larger lesions that destroy the ALQ and much of the lateral column white matter, but that spare the dorsolateral column white matter in the region of the corticospinal tract, abolish all transport of WGA-HRP to the thalamus. We conclude that the spinothalamic pathway in the non-human primate encompasses a continuous fiber bundle that extends dorsally to include the region of lateral column white matter opposite the denticulate ligament and that the more dorsal aspect of this pathway projects primarily to Po/SG of thalamus.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Horseradish Peroxidase
  • Macaca fascicularis
  • Male
  • Pain / pathology*
  • Spinal Cord / cytology
  • Spinothalamic Tracts / cytology*
  • Thalamic Nuclei / cytology*


  • Horseradish Peroxidase