The cells that project from the brain to the spinal cord have previously been mapped in a wide range of mammalian species, but have not been comprehensively studied in the mouse. We have mapped these cells in the mouse using retrograde tracing after large unilateral Fluoro-Gold (FG) and horseradish peroxidase (HRP) injections in the C1 and C2 spinal cord segments. We have identified over 30 cell groups that project to the spinal cord, and have confirmed that the pattern of major projections from the cortex, diencephalon, midbrain, and hindbrain in the mouse is typically mammalian, and very similar to that found in the rat. However, we report two novel findings: we found labeled neurons in the precuneiform area (an area which has been associated with the midbrain locomotor center in other species), and the epirubrospinal nucleus. We also found labeled cells in the medial division of central nucleus of the amygdala in a small number of cases. Our findings should be of value to researchers engaged in evaluating the impact of spinal cord injury and other spinal cord pathologies on the centers which give rise to descending pathways.
© Springer-Verlag 2010