The CA2 area is an important, although relatively unexplored, component of the hippocampus. We used various tracers to provide a comprehensive analysis of CA2 connections in C57BL/6J mice. Using various adeno-associated viruses that express fluorescent proteins, we found a vasopressinergic projection from the paraventricular nuclei of the hypothalamus (PVN) to the CA2 as well as a projection from pyramidal neurons of the CA2 to the supramammillary nuclei. These projections were confirmed by retrograde tracing. As expected, we observed CA2 afferent projections from neurons in ipsilateral entorhinal cortical layer II as well as from bilateral dorsal CA2 and CA3 using retrograde tracers. Additionally, we saw CA2 neuronal input from bilateral medial septal nuclei, vertical and horizontal limbs of the nucleus of diagonal band of Broca, supramammillary nuclei (SUM), and median raphe nucleus. Dorsal CA2 injections of adeno-associated virus expressing green fluorescent protein revealed axonal projections primarily to dorsal CA1, CA2, and CA3 bilaterally. No projection was detected to the entorhinal cortex from the dorsal CA2. These results are consistent with recent observations that the dorsal CA2 forms disynaptic connections with the entorhinal cortex to influence dynamic memory processing. Mouse dorsal CA2 neurons send bilateral projections to the medial and lateral septal nuclei, vertical and horizontal limbs of the diagonal band of Broca, and SUM. Novel connections from the PVN and to the SUM suggest important regulatory roles for CA2 in mediating social and emotional input for memory processing.
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