Noradrenergic projections to the spinal cord of the rat

Brain Res. 1983 Mar 14;263(1):15-31. doi: 10.1016/0006-8993(83)91196-4.


Noradrenergic terminals were identified in the spinal cord of rats by immunocytochemical staining for dopamine-beta-hydroxylase. Although immunoreactive fibers and terminals were observed throughout the spinal grey matter, heavier accumulations of terminal labeling were observed in the marginal layer of the dorsal horn, in the ventral horn among motoneurons, and in the autonomic lateral cell columns of the thoracic and sacral spinal cord. Two specific retrograde transport techniques were employed to identify the origins of these noradrenergic terminations in the spinal cord. Cells of origin were observed in the locus coeruleus, the subcoeruleus, the medial and lateral parabrachial, and the Kölliker-Fuse nuclei, as well as adjacent to the superior olivary nucleus. These regions correspond to the A5-A7 cell groups of the pons. No spinally projecting noradrenergic cells were ever observed in the medulla. It was concluded that pontine noradrenergic cell groups are the sole source of noradrenergic terminals in the spinal cord.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / ultrastructure
  • Dopamine beta-Hydroxylase / metabolism
  • Locus Coeruleus / anatomy & histology
  • Motor Neurons / ultrastructure
  • Nerve Fibers / ultrastructure
  • Neural Pathways / anatomy & histology
  • Neurons / ultrastructure
  • Norepinephrine / metabolism*
  • Olivary Nucleus / anatomy & histology
  • Pons / anatomy & histology
  • Rats
  • Reticular Formation / anatomy & histology
  • Spinal Cord / anatomy & histology*
  • Spinal Cord / enzymology


  • Dopamine beta-Hydroxylase
  • Norepinephrine