Amygdalotrigeminal projection in the rat: An anterograde tracing study

Ann Anat. 2011 Mar;193(2):118-26. doi: 10.1016/j.aanat.2010.12.004. Epub 2011 Jan 26.


Previous neurophysiological studies have demonstrated that the amygdala has a direct influence upon trigeminal motoneuron activity. The existence of a direct amygdalotrigeminal pathway in rats was proved by anterograde tracing with the neuroanatomical tracer, biotinylated dextran amine (BDA). After ipsilateral BDA application to the central nucleus of the amygdala (AmCe), widespread ipsilateral projections emerging from its medial subnucleus were traced to the trigeminal brainstem nuclear complex, including the principal sensory (Pr5) and mesencephalic trigeminal nucleus (Me5), and their premotoneurons and interneurons, located in the supratrigeminal, intertrigeminal and peritrigeminal nuclei. Sparse BDA-labeled axons and their terminals were also distributed in the contralateral Pr5, interpolar and caudal subnuclei of the spinal trigeminal nucleus. The central lateral amygdaloid nucleus gives rise to a light ipsilateral projection to the pontine part of the Me5. The present data indicate that AmCe sends massive efferents to the trigeminal nuclei in the brainstem, wherein its medial subnucleus sends the major input to them. The medial amygdaloid nucleus sparsely innervates Me5 neurons, specifically those located in its mesencephalic portion, while basomedial and basolateral efferents do not target the trigeminal nuclear complex. These results suggest that the amygdaloid input may modulate the activity of trigeminal sensory and motor neurons and, thus, the amygdala is possibly involved in the control of masticatory behavior.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amygdala / cytology*
  • Animals
  • Female
  • Male
  • Models, Anatomic*
  • Motor Neurons / cytology*
  • Neural Pathways / cytology*
  • Rats / anatomy & histology*
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Trigeminal Nerve / cytology*