This report provides evidence for a novel role of Barrington's nucleus, considered the pontine micturition center, in regulation of colonic function. Barrington's activation elicited increases in colonic intraluminal pressure that were eliminated by scopolamine and intrathecal lidocaine, suggesting an impact of Barrington's neurons on colonic activity via projections to lumbosacral parasympathetic neurons. Consistent with this, Barrington's neurons were transsynaptically labeled from the distal colon by pseudorabies virus and several of these were also retrogradely labeled from the locus coeruleus, which projects extensively to the forebrain. Thus, Barrington's nucleus is strategically positioned to coordinate colonic and forebrain activity. Dysfunctions within this divergent system may underlie the frequent comorbidity of colonic and psychiatric symptoms.
Copyright 1997 Elsevier Science B.V.