Hypoxia and electrical stimulation of the carotid sinus nerve induce Fos-like immunoreactivity within catecholaminergic and serotoninergic neurons of the rat brainstem

J Comp Neurol. 1994 Oct 8;348(2):161-82. doi: 10.1002/cne.903480202.


A complete understanding of the neural mechanisms responsible for the chemoreceptor and baroreceptor reflexes requires precise knowledge of the locations and chemical phenotypes of higher-order neurons within these reflex pathways. In the present study, the protein product (Fos) of the c-fos protooncogene was used as a metabolic marker to trace central neural pathways following activation of carotid sinus nerve afferent fibers. In addition, immunohistochemical double-labeling techniques were used to define the chemical phenotypes of activated neurons. Both electrical stimulation of the carotid sinus nerve and physiological stimulation of the carotid bodies by hypoxia induced Fos-like immunoreactivity in catecholaminergic neurons containing tyrosine hydroxylase or phenylethanolamine-N-methyltransferase in the ventrolateral medulla oblongata and, to a lesser degree, in the dorsal vagal complex. Tyrosine hydroxylase/Fos colocalization was also observed in the locus coeruleus and the A5 noradrenergic cell group in pons. Many serotoninergic neurons in nucleus raphe pallidus, nucleus raphe magnus, and along the ventral medullary surface contained Fos-like immunoreactivity. In pons and midbrain, Fos-like immunoreactivity was observed in the lateral parabrachial and Kölliker-Fuse nuclei, the inferior colliculus, the cuneiform nucleus, and in the vicinity of the Edinger-Westphal nucleus, but no catecholaminergic or serotoninergic colocalization was observed in these regions. Although Fos-labeled cells were observed within and lateral to the dorsal raphe nucleus, few were catecholaminergic or serotoninergic. This study further defines a potential central neuroanatomical substrate for the chemoreceptor and/or baroreceptor reflexes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Stem / cytology
  • Brain Stem / metabolism*
  • Carotid Sinus / innervation*
  • Catecholamines / metabolism
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Hypoxia / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Nervous System Physiological Phenomena
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Phenylethanolamine N-Methyltransferase / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-fos / metabolism
  • Rats / physiology*
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Serotonin / metabolism*
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase / metabolism


  • Catecholamines
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-fos
  • Serotonin
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase
  • Phenylethanolamine N-Methyltransferase