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, 259 (6 Pt 2), R1131-8

Microvascular Specializations Promoting Rapid Interstitial Solute Dispersion in Nucleus Tractus Solitarius

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Microvascular Specializations Promoting Rapid Interstitial Solute Dispersion in Nucleus Tractus Solitarius

P M Gross et al. Am J Physiol.

Abstract

Nucleus tractus solitarius (NTS), an aggregate of several individual nuclear groups in the dorsal medulla oblongata, is involved in virtually all autonomic functions as the first synaptic site in the brain for many peripheral viscerosomatic inputs. We found morphological evidence that dorsocaudal subregions of rat NTS (approximately 800 microns caudal from obex) had fenestrated capillaries and enlarged Virchow-Robin (perivascular) spaces that were similar to those in area postrema but unlike capillaries elsewhere in the medulla oblongata. Complexes of microvessels, consisting of up to 10 small vessels with smooth muscle layers (luminal diameters of 10-45 microns) and several capillaries (average luminal diameter of 4.5 microns), were located in the dorsal midline of NTS within large Virchow-Robin spaces measuring some 2,000 microns 2 in area. In physiological studies, we determined that most of NTS had a definable blood-brain barrier [permeability-surface area (PS) products for a neutral amino acid near 0], but medial and lateral aspects of the commissural subnucleus of NTS had PS products of 16-63 microliters.g-1.min-1 for alpha-[14C]aminoisobutyric acid 12 s after intravenous injection. Microvascular differentiations permitting such brisk tracer influx from blood resemble those of area postrema and appear to afford the rich neuropil of commissural NTS with a constant stream of blood-borne information for expediting its regulation of viscerosensory and autonomic functions.

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