Organization of projections from the dorsomedial nucleus of the hypothalamus: a PHA-L study in the rat

J Comp Neurol. 1996 Dec 2;376(1):143-73. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1096-9861(19961202)376:1<143::AID-CNE9>3.0.CO;2-3.


The axonal projections of the dorsomedial nucleus of the hypothalamus were investigated by using Phaseolous vulgaris-leucoagglutinin. The main conclusion of this work is that these projections are largely intrahypothalamic, with smaller components directed toward the brainstem and telencephalon. Although the intrahypothalamic pathways are very complex and intermix at various levels, we conclude that dorsomedial nucleus outputs follow three distinct ascending pathways: periventricular, coursing through the hypothalamic periventricular zone; ventral, traveling beneath the medial zone; and lateral, ascending in medial parts of the lateral hypothalamic area. Within the hypothalamus, the most densely innervated areas are the paraventricular nucleus, other dorsal regions of the periventricular zone, the preoptic suprachiasmatic nucleus, and the parastrial nucleus. Other significant terminal fields include the median preoptic, anteroventral periventricular, lateral part of the medial preoptic, and anteroventral preoptic nuclei; and the retrochiasmatic (including perisuprachiasmatic) area. Descending projections follow two pathways that also converge at various levels: a dorsal pathway in the midbrain periventricular system travels through, and primarily innervates, the periaqueductal and pontine gray, and a ventral pathway extends through ventromedial regions of the brainstem. Although sparse, fibers in the later pathway can be traced as far caudally as the nucleus of the solitary tract. The results are discussed relative to the pathways and properties of nearby hypothalamic medial zone nuclei. Dorsomedial nucleus projections are similar to certain other nuclei (e.g., anteroventral periventricular and parastrial) with predominantly intrahypothalamic projections, and different from those arising in the medial zone nuclei (medial preoptic, anterior hypothalamic, ventromedial, and mammillary.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Afferent Pathways / physiology
  • Animals
  • Brain Mapping
  • Dorsomedial Hypothalamic Nucleus / physiology*
  • Efferent Pathways / physiology
  • Male
  • Phytohemagglutinins
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Synaptic Transmission*


  • Phytohemagglutinins
  • leukoagglutinins, plants