Identification of serotonin and non-serotonin-containing neurons of the mid-brain raphe projecting to the entorhinal area and the hippocampal formation. A combined immunohistochemical and fluorescent retrograde tracing study in the rat brain

Neuroscience. 1982 Apr;7(4):951-75. doi: 10.1016/0306-4522(82)90054-9.


We have studied the localization of serotonin- and non-serotonin-containing cell bodies in the midbrain raphe nuclei that project to the entorhinal area and the hippocampal formation in the rat brain, using the technique of combined retrograde fluorescent tracing and immunohistochemistry on the same tissue section. The branching properties of these neurons were studied by retrograde double labelling using two fluorochromes which emit fluorescence with different spectral characteristics. After injections of granular blue or propidium iodide into the medial entorhinal area, retrogradely-labelled cells were found situated bilaterally in the caudal half of the dorsal raphe nucleus, the medial part of the median raphe and throughout the rostrocaudal extension of the nucleus reticularis tegmentipontis. Injections placed successively more laterally in the entorhinal area labelled progressively less cells contralaterally in the dorsal raphe and the reticular tegmental nucleus of the pons. After fluorochrome injections into the dorsal part of the hippocampal formation, retrogradely-labelled cells were found in the caudal part of the dorsal raphe, in the peripheral part of the median raphe and to a minor extent in the medial part of this nucleus, but not in the nucleus reticularis tegmentipontis. The experiments with double retrograde fluorescent tracing showed that the raphe nuclei do not send bilateral projections to the entorhinal area in spite of the fact that many of these cells are located contralateral to the injected hemisphere in single labelling experiments. Injections of the fluorochromes into the entorhinal area and hippocampal formation showed that at least 10% of the raphe cells project to both areas simultaneously. Analysis of sections incubated with antiserum to serotonin showed that a majority of the retrogradely-labelled versus serotonin-immunoreactive cells was found to vary within different parts of the individual raphe nuclei: the ventromedial part of the dorsal, the medial part of the median and the nucleus reticularis tegmentipontis being the highest. The findings indicate that both serotonin- and non-serotonin-containing neurons in the raphe innervate the hippocampal region, that these projections may be crossed but not bilateral, and that the same neuron in the raphe may influence the neural activity in the entorhinal area and the hippocampus simultaneously.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Mapping
  • Brain Stem / metabolism*
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Hippocampus / metabolism*
  • Histocytochemistry
  • Immunochemistry
  • Limbic System / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Mesencephalon / metabolism*
  • Neural Pathways / metabolism
  • Raphe Nuclei / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Serotonin / metabolism*


  • Serotonin