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J Chem Neuroanat. 2006 Jan;31(1):2-36. Epub 2005 Sep 23.

The organization of the brainstem and spinal cord of the mouse: relationships between monoaminergic, cholinergic, and spinal projection systems.

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Department of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, S-17177, Sweden.


Information regarding the organization of the CNS in terms of neurotransmitter systems and spinal connections in the mouse is sparse, especially at the level of the brainstem. An overview is presented of monoaminergic and cholinergic systems in the brainstem and spinal cord that were visualized immunohistochemically in inbred C57BL/6 and outbred CD-1 mice. This information is complemented with data on spinal cord-projecting systems that were characterized using retrograde tracing, spinal hemisections, and double labeling techniques. Attention is given to differences in these systems related to spinal levels. The data are discussed with reference to studies in the rat, and to standardized information as provided in the atlas of the mouse brain. Although the overall organization of these systems in the mouse is largely similar to those in the rat, species differences are present in relative location, size and/or connectivity of cell groups. For example, catecholaminergic neurons in the (ventro)lateral pons (A5 and A7 cell groups) in the mouse project to the spinal cord mainly via contralateral, and not ipsilateral, pathways. The data further supplement information as provided in standardized brainstem sections of the C57BL/6 mouse [Paxinos, G., Franklin, K.B.J., 2001. The mouse brain in stereotaxic coordinates. Academic Press, San Diego], especially with respect to the size and/or location of the catecholaminergic retrorubral field (A8 group), A5, A1, and C1 cell groups, and the serotonergic B4 group, reticulotegmental nucleus (B9 group), lateral paragigantocellular nucleus and raphe magnus nucleus (B3 group). Altogether this study provides a comprehensive overview of the spatial relationships of neurochemically and anatomically defined neuronal systems in the mouse brainstem and spinal cord.

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