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J Neurosci Res. 2004 Dec 15;78(6):901-7.

Projections from the trigeminal nuclear complex to the cochlear nuclei: a retrograde and anterograde tracing study in the guinea pig.

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Department of Otolaryngology and Kresge Hearing Research Institute, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109, USA.


In addition to input from auditory centers, the cochlear nucleus (CN) receives inputs from nonauditory centers, including the trigeminal sensory complex. The detailed anatomy, however, and the functional implications of the nonauditory innervation of the auditory system are not fully understood. We demonstrated previously that the trigeminal ganglion projects to CN, with terminal labeling most dense in the marginal cell area and secondarily in the magnocellular area of the ventral cochlear nucleus (VCN). We continue this line of study by investigating the projection from the spinal trigeminal nucleus to CN in guinea pig. After injections of the retrograde tracers FluoroGold or biotinylated dextran amine (BDA) in VCN, labeled cells were found in the spinal trigeminal nuclei, most densely in the pars interpolaris and pars caudalis with ipsilateral dominance. The anterograde tracers Fluoro-Ruby or BDA were stereotaxically injected into the spinal trigeminal nucleus. Most labeled puncta were found in the marginal area of VCN and the fusiform cell layer of dorsal cochlear nucleus (DCN). A smaller number of labeled puncta was located in the molecular and deep layers of DCN and the magnocellular area of VCN. The trigeminal projection to CN may provide somatosensory information necessary for pursuing a sound source or for vocal production. These projections may have a role in the generation and modulation of tinnitus.

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