Trigeminal projections to thalamus and subthalamus in the hedgehog tenrec

Neuroscience. 1998 Sep;86(2):651-61. doi: 10.1016/s0306-4522(98)00056-6.


The objective of the present study was the identification and characterization of the trigemino-diencephalic target areas in the Madagascan lesser hedgehog tenrec in order to get a more comprehensive view on the mammalian somatosensory thalamus, its evolution and representation in different species. Such an analysis has been considered important because in lower mammals the head and face are relatively well represented, but their ascending trigeminal projections have scarcely been analysed. Following injections of different tracer substances into the rostral and caudal portions of the trigeminal nuclear complex the most prominent area of termination was found in the medial ventroposterior nucleus. These projections were patchy and scarcely overlapped the region previously shown to receive spinal and dorsal column nuclear afferents. On the basis of the laterality and the intensity of the projections, two subdivisions were distinguished, the principal portion and the accessory portion receiving a dense contralateral and a weak bilateral input, respectively. They were considered equivalents to the magnocellular and parvocellular subdivisions of the medial ventroposterior nucleus in more differentiated mammals. In the latter species, however, the overlap between trigeminal and parabrachial fibres appears less extensive than in the tenrec. In addition, a weak bilateral projection was shown from the caudal trigeminal nucleus to the caudal and dorsal subdivision of the nucleus submedius. There was little, if any evidence for a trigeminal projection to the intralaminar nuclei and we failed to identify a correlate to the posterior nuclear complex of higher mammals. On the other hand, there was a distinct contralateral projection to the ventral portion of the zona incerta. This projection was of similar strength as the projection to the medial ventroposterior nucleus; it supports the notion that the zona incerta may play a crucial role in relaying trigeminal information.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axonal Transport
  • Biotin / analogs & derivatives
  • Dextrans
  • Diencephalon / anatomy & histology*
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Hedgehogs / anatomy & histology*
  • Madagascar
  • Thalamus / anatomy & histology*
  • Trigeminal Nerve / anatomy & histology*
  • Trigeminal Nuclei / anatomy & histology*
  • Wheat Germ Agglutinin-Horseradish Peroxidase Conjugate


  • Dextrans
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Wheat Germ Agglutinin-Horseradish Peroxidase Conjugate
  • biotinylated dextran amine
  • Biotin