Fos immunohistochemistry was used to map the distribution of pontine neurons excited by activation of the medial preoptic area (MPO). Although we have previously shown that Barrington's nucleus receives a very dense focal input from the MPO, electrical stimulation of the preoptic area unexpectedly induced very little Fos expression in Barrington's neurons. These results suggest that the MPO-->Barrington's projection utilizes a transmitter(s) that does not involve transduction of the Fos protein; alternatively, MPO afferents to Barrington's nucleus may be inhibitory in nature. As Barrington's nucleus plays a critical role in micturition, MPO projections to Barrington's nucleus may regulate voiding reflexes during sexual behavior. Interestingly, while the locus coeruleus (LC) proper receives only a sparse projection from the MPO, extensive Fos expression was present in LC. The finding of Fos immunoreactive LC neurons suggests that the excitatory influence of MPO may regulate LC neuronal activity and NE release during reproductive behaviors.
Copyright 1998 Elsevier Science B.V.