CNS cell groups projecting to sympathetic outflow of tail artery: neural circuits involved in heat loss in the rat

Brain Res. 1998 Mar 9;786(1-2):153-64. doi: 10.1016/s0006-8993(97)01437-6.


In the rat, approximately 20% of total body heat-loss occurs by sympathetically mediated increases in blood flow through an elaborate system of arteriovenous anastomoses in the skin of its tail. In this study, the CNS cell groups that regulate this sympathetic outflow were identified by the viral transneuronal labeling method. Pseudorabies virus was injected into the wall of the ventral tail artery in rats that had their cauda equina transected to eliminate the somatic innervation of the tail. After 4-7 days survival, the pattern of CNS transneuronal labeling was studied. Sympathetic preganglionic neurons in the T11-L2 (mainly L1) levels of the intermediolateral cell column (IML) were labeled by 4 days. After 5 days, sympathetic pre-motor neurons (i.e., supraspinal neurons that project to the IML) were identified near the ventral medullary surface; some of these contained serotonin immunoreactivity. Additional groups of the sympathetic premotor areas were labeled by 6 days post-injection, including the rostral ventrolateral medulla (C1 adrenergic neurons), rostral ventromedial medulla, caudal raphe nuclei (serotonin neurons in the raphe pallidus and magnus nuclei), A5 noradrenergic cell group, lateral hypothalamic area and paraventricular hypothalamic area (oxytocin-immunoreactive neurons). Seven days after the PRV injections, additional cell groups in the telencephalon (viz., bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, medial and lateral preoptic areas and medial preoptic nucleus), diencephalon (viz., subincertal nucleus, zona incerta as well as dorsal, dorsomedial, parafascicular, posterior and ventromedial hypothalamic nuclei) and midbrain (viz., periaqueductal gray matter, precommissural nucleus, Edinger-Westphal nucleus and ventral tegmental area) were labeled. The discussion is focused on the CNS cell groups involved in the control of body temperature and fever.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arteries / innervation
  • Body Temperature Regulation / physiology*
  • Central Nervous System / cytology
  • Central Nervous System / physiology*
  • Male
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Sympathetic Nervous System / physiology*
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology*
  • Tail / blood supply