The brain stem premotor pathways controlling most noncardiovascular sympathetic outflows are unknown. Here, we mapped the brain stem neurons that drive sweating, by microinjecting excitant amino acid (L-glutamate or D,L-homocysteate: 0.4-3 nmol) into 420 sites over the pons and medulla of eight chloralose-anesthetized cats (70 mg/kg iv). Sweating was recorded by the electrodermal potential at the ipsilateral forepaw pad. Responses were classified as immediate (<5 s latency) or delayed (>10 s latency). Immediate responses were obtained from 16 sites (1-3 per animal) and were accompanied by no change in blood pressure. Those sites were clustered between the facial nucleus and the pyramidal tract in the rostral ventromedial medulla (RVMM). Microinjections into 33 surrounding sites caused delayed electrodermal responses of lesser amplitude, while the remaining 371 sites evoked none. To retrogradely label bulbospinal neurons that may mediate electrodermal responses, fluorescent latex microspheres were injected into the region of the intermediolateral cell column in the fourth thoracic segment in an earlier preparatory procedure on six of the animals. A cluster of retrogradely labeled neurons was identified between the facial nucleus and the pyramidal tract. Neurons in this discrete region of the RVMM, thus, drive sweating in the cat's paw and may do so via direct spinal projections.
Keywords: medulla oblongata; sweating; sympathetic.