The paraventricular nucleus of the thalamus (PVT) is a midline thalamic nucleus with dense projections to the nucleus accumbens (NAc), dorsolateral region of the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BSTDL) and the lateral/capsular region of the central nucleus of the amygdala (CeL/CeC). Recent experimental evidence indicates that the PVT is involved in both appetitive and aversive behaviors. However, it is unknown if subgroups of neurons in the PVT innervate different subcortical targets or if the same neurons issue collaterals to multiple areas. To address this issue, we injected two different fluorescent retrograde tracers, cholera toxin subunit B conjugated to Alexa Fluor-488 or Alexa Fluor-594, into different pairs of the subcortical targets including different parts of the NAc (shell, core, dorsomedial shell, and ventromedial shell), BSTDL, and amygdala (basolateral amygdala and CeL/CeC). The results indicate a moderate to high level of collateralization of projections from neurons in the PVT to NAc, BSTDL, and CeL/CeC suggesting a potential importance of the PVT in simultaneously coordinating the activity of key regions of the brain involved in mediating emotional and motivational behaviors. We also observed a difference in the subcortical targets innervated by the anterior PVT (aPVT) and posterior PVT (pPVT) showing that more neurons in the aPVT innervate the dorsomedial part of the NAc shell, while more neurons in the pPVT innervate the ventromedial NAc shell, BSTDL, and CeL/CeC. This observation is suggestive of a potential functional difference between the aPVT and pPVT.
Keywords: Emotion; Extended amygdala; Midline thalamus; Motivation; Nucleus accumbens; Paraventricular nucleus.