Evidence for the existence of a functional polysynaptic pathway from trigeminal afferents to lumbar motoneurons in the neonatal rat

Eur J Neurosci. 1995 Jan 1;7(1):143-51. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-9568.1995.tb01028.x.


Stimulation of trigeminal afferents has been reported to have powerful effects on the spinal cord in adult animals of several species. In the present study, the pathway transmitting these influences was investigated in the neonatal rat. Experiments were performed on in vitro brainstem/spinal cord preparations. Stimulation of the trigeminal nerve evoked bilateral polysynaptic discharges in lumbar ventral roots. Intracellular recordings from lumbar motoneurons showed mainly excitatory responses, although a few inhibitory responses were also observed. Experiments with perfusion of different parts of the preparation with general or selective synaptic blockers revealed a synaptic relay under GABAergic control in the brainstem, and at least one synapse in the cervical and in the thoracic spinal cord. The involvement of lumbar interneurons was established by perfusing the lumbar enlargement with saline containing either a high concentration of divalent ions or mephenesin in order to reduce transmission along polysynaptic pathways. The contribution of excitatory amino acid transmission was evaluated and was found to evoke mixed receptor responses. The course of the pathway was traced by using different lesions to the brainstem and spinal cord. The pathway was found to be ipsilateral in the brainstem and to become bilateral in the spinal cord. The results of the present study demonstrate that polysynaptic sensorimotor pathways are present at birth. The results are discussed in relation to the pontomedullary locomotor strip, which has been thought to share many features with the trigeminal system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 6-Cyano-7-nitroquinoxaline-2,3-dione / pharmacology
  • Afferent Pathways
  • Animals
  • Calcium / pharmacology
  • Evoked Potentials
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Magnesium / pharmacology
  • Motor Neurons / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Spinal Cord / physiology*
  • Strychnine / pharmacology
  • Synapses / physiology*
  • Trigeminal Nerve / physiology*


  • 6-Cyano-7-nitroquinoxaline-2,3-dione
  • Strychnine
  • Magnesium
  • Calcium