Efferent connections of the substantia nigra and ventral tegmental area in the rat

Brain Res. 1979 Oct 19;175(2):191-217. doi: 10.1016/0006-8993(79)91001-1.


Small injections of tritiated leucine and proline confined to the ventral tegmental area (AVT) were found to label fibers ascending: (a) to the entire ventromedial half of the striatum, but most massively to the ventral striatal zone that includes the nucleus accumbens; (b) to the thalamus: lateral habenular nucleus, nuclei reuniens and centralis medius, and the most medial zone of the mediodorsal nucleus; (c) to the posterior hypothalamic nucleus and possibly the lateral hypothalamic and preoptic region; (d) to the nuclei amygdalae centralis, lateralis and medialis; (e) to the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, the nucleus of the diagonal band, and the medial half of the lateral septal nucleus; (f) to the anteromedial (frontocingulate) cortex; and (g) to the entorhinal area. Further AVT efferents descend to the medial half of the midbrain tegmentum including an anterior region of the median raphe nucleus, to the ventral half of the central grey substance including the dorsal raphe nucleus, to the parabrachial nuclei, and to the locus coeruleus. Similar injections centered in the pars compacta of the substantia nigra (SNC) label fibers that are distributed in the striatum in an orderly medial-to-lateral arrangement, and almost entirely avoid the nucleus accumbens and olfactory tubercle. With the exception of the lateral quarter of the substantia nigra, which apparently does not project to the extreme rostral pole of the striatum, each small SNC locus, regardless of its anteroposterior localization, distributes nigrostriatal fibers throughout the length of the striatum. Descending SNC efferents are distributed to the same general regions that receive descending AVT projections, except that no SNC fibers appear to enter the locus coeruleus. Isotope injections confined to the pars reticulata (SNR) label sparse nigrostriatal fibers, and numerous nigrothalamic fibers ascending mainly to the nucleus ventromedialis and in lesser number to the parafascicular nucleus and the paralamellar zone of the nucleus mediodorsalis. Descending SNR fibers leave the nigra as a voluminous fiber bundle that bifurcates into a large nigrotectal and a smaller nigrotegmental component, the latter terminating largely in the pedunculopontine nucleus of the pontomesencephalic tegmentum.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amygdala / anatomy & histology
  • Animals
  • Autoradiography
  • Cerebral Cortex / anatomy & histology
  • Corpus Callosum / anatomy & histology
  • Corpus Striatum / anatomy & histology
  • Efferent Pathways / anatomy & histology
  • Female
  • Hypothalamus / anatomy & histology
  • Male
  • Medial Forebrain Bundle / anatomy & histology
  • Nerve Fibers / ultrastructure
  • Rats
  • Substantia Nigra / anatomy & histology*
  • Tegmentum Mesencephali / anatomy & histology*
  • Thalamic Nuclei / anatomy & histology