Pedunculopontine nucleus in the squirrel monkey: projections to the basal ganglia as revealed by anterograde tract-tracing methods

J Comp Neurol. 1994 Jun 8;344(2):210-31. doi: 10.1002/cne.903440204.


The efferent projections of the pedunculopontine nucleus (PPN) to the basal ganglia have been studied in the squirrel monkey (Saimiri sciureus) with [3H]leucine and Phaseolus vulgaris-leucoagglutinin (PHA-L) as anterograde tracers. Following unilateral injections of [3H]leucine or PHA-L in the central portion of the PPN, numerous autoradiographic linear profiles or PHA-L-labeled fibers ascend to the forebrain, both ipsilaterally and contralaterally. These fibers form a compact bundle that courses in the central portion of the mesopontine tegmentum. At rostral mesencephalic levels, this bundle splits into ventromedial and dorsolateral fascicles that arborize in basal ganglia and thalamic nuclei, respectively. The substantia nigra and the subthalamic nucleus are by far the most densely innervated structures of the basal ganglia. In these two nuclei, labeled fibers arborize profusely ipsilaterally and less abundantly contralaterally. The labeled fibers in the substantia nigra are thin and varicose and arborize almost exclusively in the pars compacta, where they closely surround the soma and proximal dendrites of dopaminergic neurons. In the subthalamic nucleus, labeled fibers are also thin and appear to contact more than one neuron along their course. Numerous labeled fibers also occur in the pallidal complex, where they arborize most profusely in the internal segment. Several thick, labeled fibers oriented dorsolaterally in the pallidal complex give rise to thinner fibers that closely surround the soma and proximal dendrites of pallidal neurons. Some labeled fibers are also scattered in the striatum. These fibers abound in the peripallidal and ventral portions of the putamen, are more sparsely distributed in the remaining portion of the putamen as well as in the caudate nucleus, and are virtually absent in the ventral striatum. These results reveal that the PPN gives rise to a massive and highly ordered innervation of the basal ganglia in the squirrel monkey. This nucleus may thus act as an important relay in the basal ganglia circuitry in primates.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Basal Ganglia / physiology*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Leucine
  • Phytohemagglutinins
  • Pons / physiology*
  • Saimiri / physiology*
  • Synaptic Transmission*
  • Tegmentum Mesencephali / physiology*


  • Phytohemagglutinins
  • leukoagglutinins, plants
  • Leucine