Mamillary body in the rat: topography and synaptology of projections from the subicular complex, prefrontal cortex, and midbrain tegmentum

J Comp Neurol. 1989 Aug 15;286(3):311-36. doi: 10.1002/cne.902860303.


The retrograde and anterograde transport of horseradish peroxidase conjugated to wheat germ agglutinin (WGA-HRP) has been used to trace afferent connections of the rat mamillary body (MB) at the light and electron microscopic levels. Injections of WGA-HRP into different parts of the MB resulted in heavy retrograde labeling in the subicular complex, medial prefrontal cortex, and dorsal and ventral tegmental nuclei. Injections of WGA-HRP into each of these brain regions, respectively, resulted in anterograde labeling with specific distributions and characteristic synaptic organizations in the MB. Projections from the rostrodorsal and caudoventral subiculum terminated in a topographically organized laminar fashion in the medial mamillary nucleus bilaterally, whereas afferent projections from the presubiculum and parasubiculum terminated only in the lateral mamillary nucleus. Labeled axon terminals which originated from the subicular complex were characterized by round vesicles and formed asymmetric synaptic junctions with small-diameter dendrites and dendritic spines in the medial and lateral mamillary nuclei. Projections from the prefrontal cortex originated mainly in the infralimbic area and to a lesser degree in the prelimbic and anterior cingulate areas. Injections of tracer into these brain regions gave rise to dense labeling of axon terminals in the medial mamillary nucleus, pars medianus, and in the anterior dorsomedial portion of the pars medialis. The labeled terminals were characterized by round vesicles and formed asymmetric synaptic junctions with small-diameter dendrites and dendritic spines. Projections from the dorsal tegmental nucleus terminated in the ipsilateral lateral mamillary nucleus, whereas afferent projections from the anterior and posterior subnuclei of the ventral tegmental nucleus terminated topographically in the medial mamillary nucleus. The ventral tegmental nucleus, pars anterior projected to the midline region of the medial nucleus and the dorsolateral and ventromedial subdivisions of the pars posterior projected to medial and lateral parts of the medial nucleus, respectively. In contrast to the synaptic morphology of subicular complex and medial prefrontal cortex axon terminals in the MB, labeled axon terminals in the MB which originated from the midbrain tegmentum were characterized by pleomorphic vesicles and formed symmetric synaptic junctions with neuronal somata and proximal dendrites as well as distal dendrites and dendritic spines.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Afferent Pathways / anatomy & histology
  • Afferent Pathways / ultrastructure
  • Animals
  • Cerebral Cortex / anatomy & histology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / ultrastructure
  • Hippocampus / anatomy & histology*
  • Hippocampus / ultrastructure
  • Male
  • Mammillary Bodies / anatomy & histology*
  • Mammillary Bodies / ultrastructure
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Neurons, Afferent / ultrastructure*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Synapses / ultrastructure*
  • Tegmentum Mesencephali / anatomy & histology*
  • Tegmentum Mesencephali / ultrastructure