Serotonergic dorsal raphe nucleus projections to the cholinergic and noncholinergic neurons of the pedunculopontine tegmental region: a light and electron microscopic anterograde tracing and immunohistochemical study

J Comp Neurol. 1997 Jun 9;382(3):302-22. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1096-9861(19970609)382:3<302::aid-cne2>;2-7.


The serotonergic dorsal raphe nucleus is considered an important modulator of state-dependent neural activity via projections to cholinergic neurons of the pedunculopontine tegmental nucleus (PPT). Light and electron microscopic analysis of anterogradely transported biotinylated dextran, combined with choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) immunohistochemistry, were employed to describe the synaptic organization of mesopontine projections from the dorsal raphe to the PPT. In a separate set of experiments, we utilized immunohistochemistry for the serotonin transporter (SERT), combined with ChAT immunohistochemistry at the light and electron microscopic levels, to determine whether PPT neurons receive serotonergic innervation. The results of these studies indicate that: (1) anterogradely labeled and SERT-immunoreactive axons and presumptive boutons invest the PPT at the light microscopic level; (2) at the ultrastructural level, dorsal raphe terminals in the PPT pars compacta synapse mainly with dendrites and axosomatic contacts were not observed; (3) approximately 12% of dorsal raphe terminals synapse with ChAT-immunoreactive dendrites; and (4) at least 2-4% of the total synaptic input to ChAT-immunoreactive dendrites is of dorsal raphe and/or serotonergic origin. This serotonergic dorsal raphe innervation may modulate cholinergic PPT neurons during alterations in behavioral state. The role of these projections in the initiation of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and the ponto-geniculo-occipital waves that precede and accompany REM sleep is discussed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholine / analysis
  • Animals
  • Carrier Proteins / analysis
  • Choline O-Acetyltransferase / analysis*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / analysis
  • Membrane Transport Proteins*
  • Microscopy / methods
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / analysis
  • Neural Pathways / chemistry
  • Raphe Nuclei / chemistry*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Serotonin / analysis*
  • Serotonin Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Synapses / chemistry


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Serotonin Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Slc6a4 protein, rat
  • Serotonin
  • Choline O-Acetyltransferase
  • Acetylcholine