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Brain Res. 1996 Apr 9;715(1-2):125-35.

Trigeminal-parabrachial connections: possible pathway for nociception-induced cardiovascular reflex responses.

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  • 1Faculty of Medicine, Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. gva@ac.dal.ca


Noxious stimulation of dental nerves elicits marked changes in cardiovascular function. In order to investigate central pathways mediating reflex changes in cardiovascular activity, immunohistochemical localization of cells expressing the immediate-early gene, c-fos, was used to identify central nervous responding to noxious electrical stimulation of mandibular, incisor tooth dentin or chemical (capsaicin) stimulation of tooth pulp in the anesthetized rat. Injections of Fluoro-Gold were made in the lateral parabrachial region to identify efferent projections from the spinal trigeminal nucleus. Electrical and chemical stimulation produced similar patterns of Fos-positive neurons in the spinal trigeminal nucleus: subnuclei caudalis, interpolaris and oralis. Fos-positive neurons were most dense in laminae I and II of the dorsomedial subnucleus caudalis with fewer Fos-positive neurons located in the interpolaris and oralis subnuclei. Sham stimulation of tooth dentin and control vehicle injections into the tooth pulp resulted in either a few weakly stained or no Fos-positive neurons in the spinal trigeminal nucleus. Cell bodies double labeled with Fluro-Gold following injections into the parabrachial region and Fos-protein subsequent to electrical stimulation of incisor tooth were present in all three subnuclei of the spinal trigeminal nucleus. The largest number of Fos-positive neurons with efferent projections to the lateral parabrachial region were located in subnucleus caudalis (32.2 +/- 5.3 S.E.M.) and fewer were located in the interpolaris (0.4 +/- 0.4 S.E.M.) and oralis (19.8 +/- 3.5 S.E.M.) subnuclei. The results demonstrate that nociceptive dental input received by the three subnuclei of the spinal trigeminal nucleus, particularly the subnucleus caudalis, is relayed to the lateral parabrachial nucleus.

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