Central distribution of trigeminal and upper cervical primary afferents in the rat studied by anterograde transport of horseradish peroxidase conjugated to wheat germ agglutinin

J Comp Neurol. 1988 Feb 1;268(1):91-108. doi: 10.1002/cne.902680110.


Injections of WGA-HRP were made in the rat trigeminal ganglion and C1-3 dorsal root ganglia (DRGs) to study the central projection patterns and their relations to each other. Trigeminal ganglion injections resulted in heavy terminal labeling in all trigeminal sensory nuclei. Prominent labeling was also observed in the solitary tract nucleus and in the medial parts of the dorsal horn at C1-3 levels, but labeling could be followed caudally to the C7 segment. Contralateral trigeminal projections were found in the nucleus caudalis and in the dorsal horn at C1-3 levels. The C1 DRG was found to be inconstant in the rat. When it was present, small amounts of terminal labeling were found in the external cuneate nucleus (ECN) and the central cervical nucleus (CCN). No dorsal horn projections were seen from the C1 DRG. Injections in the C2 DRG resulted in heavy labeling in the ECN, nucleus X, CCN, and dorsal horn, where it was mainly located in lateral areas. Labeling could be followed caudally to the Th 7 segment. C2 DRG projections also appeared in the cuneate nucleus (Cun), in all the trigeminal sensory nuclei, and in the spinal, medial, and lateral vestibular nuclei. A small C2 DRG projection was observed in the ventral cochlear nucleus. C3 DRG injections resulted in heavy labeling in both medial middle and lateral parts of the dorsal horn, in the ECN, and in nucleus X, whereas the labeling in the CCN was somewhat weaker. Smaller projections were seen to trigeminal nuclei, Cun, and the column of Clarke. Comparisons of the central projection fields of trigeminal and upper cervical primary afferents indicated a somatotopic organization but with a certain degree of overlap.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / cytology*
  • Brain / physiology
  • Female
  • Ganglia / cytology
  • Ganglia / physiology
  • Ganglia, Spinal / cytology*
  • Ganglia, Spinal / physiology
  • Horseradish Peroxidase
  • Male
  • Neck
  • Neurons, Afferent / physiology*
  • Rats / anatomy & histology*
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Trigeminal Nerve / cytology*
  • Trigeminal Nerve / physiology
  • Wheat Germ Agglutinins


  • Wheat Germ Agglutinins
  • Horseradish Peroxidase