The parasubthalamic nucleus (PSTN) and the ventrally adjacent calbindin nucleus (CbN) form a nuclear complex in the posterior lateral hypothalamic area (LHA), recently characterized as connected with the central nucleus of the amygdala (CEA). The aim of the present work is to analyze in detail the projections from the amygdala into the PSTN/CbN, also focusing on pathways into the LHA. After fluorogold injections into the PSTN/CbN, the medial part of the CEA (CEAm) appears to be the main supplier of projections from the CEA. Other amygdalar nuclei contribute to the innervation of the PSTN/CbN complex, including the anterior part of the basomedial nucleus (BMAa). Injections of the anterograde tracer, Phaseolus vulgaris leucoagglutinin (PHAL), into the CEAm and BMAa revealed that projections from the CEAm follow two pathways into the LHA: a dorsal pathway formed by axons that also innervate the paraventricular hypothalamic nucleus, the anterior perifornical LHA and the PSTN, and a ventral pathway that runs laterally adjacent to the ventrolateral hypothalamic tract (vlt) and ends in the CbN. By contrast, the BMAa and other telencephalic structures, such as the fundus striatum project to the CbN via the ventral pathway. Confirming the microscopic observation, a semi-quantitative analysis of the density of these projections showed that the PSTN and the CbN are the major hypothalamic targets for the projections from the CEAm and the BMAa, respectively. PSTN and CbN receive these projections through distinct dorsal and ventral routes in the LHA. The ventral pathway forms a differentiated tract, named here the ventrolateral amygdalo-hypothalamic tract (vlah), that is distinct from, but runs adjacent to, the vlt. Both the vlt and the vlah had been previously described as forming an olfactory path into the LHA. These results help to better characterize the CbN within the PSTN/CbN complex and are discussed in terms of the functional organization of the network involving the PSTN and the CbN as well as the CEA and the BMAa.
Keywords: CGRP; Calbindin; Olfaction; Parabrachial nucleus; Parvalbumin.