Send to

Choose Destination
J Neurophysiol. 1991 Jul;66(1):261-84.

Physiological characterization of spinohypothalamic tract neurons in the lumbar enlargement of rats.

Author information

Department of Cell Biology and Neuroanatomy, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis 55455.


1. Ninety-six neurons in the lumbar enlargement of urethananesthetized rats were antidromically activated from the contralateral hypothalamus. The antidromic stimulating electrode was moved systematically within the hypothalamus until antidromic activation could be produced with currents of less than or equal to 50 microA (18.6 +/- 10.8 microA; mean +/- SD). The points at which antidromic activation thresholds were lowest were found in several regions of the hypothalamus but were concentrated in the optic tract and the supraoptic decussation. 2. The recording locations of 79 spinohypothalamic tract (SHT) neurons were marked and recovered. Twenty-nine were located in the superficial dorsal horn (SDH), 42 in the deep dorsal horn (DDH), 4 in the intermediate zone, and 2 in the gray matter surrounding the central canal. Two additional marks were located in the dorsal lateral funiculus (DLF). 3. The responses of 46 SHT neurons were examined during innocuous and noxious mechanical stimulation of their receptive fields. Forty-eight percent of recorded SHT neurons responded to both innocuous and noxious stimuli (wide dynamic range, WDR) and 39% responded only to noxious stimuli (high threshold, HT). Therefore 87% of SHT neurons responded preferentially or exclusively to noxious mechanical stimulation. Nine percent of SHT neurons responded exclusively to innocuous manipulation of joints and muscles. Four percent of SHT neurons responded only to innocuous tactile stimul (low threshold, LT). WDR, HT, and LT neurons were recorded widely throughout the dorsal horn; no relationship was found between the locations of recording sites in the dorsal horn and the response types of the neurons. SHT neurons that responded to stimulation of muscle, tendon, or joint were recorded deep in the gray matter. 4. The effects of heating the receptive fields were determined for 25 SHT neurons. Fourteen (56%) responded to thermal stimuli. Six (43%) of the responsive neurons responded at low frequencies to innocuous warming (38-41 degrees C) but more vigorously to noxious (greater than or equal to 45 degrees C) heating. The other eight responded only to noxious heat. Eighteen percent (3/17) of tested SHT neurons were activated by noxious cooling of their receptive fields. 5. Cutaneous receptive fields of most recorded SHT neurons were small, typically involving areas as small as two or three toes on the ipsilateral hindlimb; the largest receptive fields covered the entire paw. These findings indicate that relatively precise information about the location of innocuous and noxious stimuli is conveyed directly to the hypothalamus by SHT neurons.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Atypon
Loading ...
Support Center