Send to

Choose Destination
J Comp Neurol. 1990 Sep 22;299(4):493-508.

Projections from the lateral geniculate nucleus to the hypothalamus of the Mongolian gerbil (Meriones unguiculatus): an anterograde and retrograde tracing study.

Author information

Institute of Medical Anatomy B, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.


The lateral geniculate nucleus of the thalamus sends efferents to the hypothalamic suprachiasmatic nucleus, which is involved in generation and entrainment of several circadian rhythms. It seems reasonable to believe that the lateral geniculate conveys visual information about the length of the photoperiod to the circadian oscillator. In order to study in more detail the topographical relationship between the lateral geniculate and the suprachiasmatic nucleus, anterograde tracing with Phaseolus vulgaris leucoagglutinin (PHA-L) and retrograde tracing with wheatgerm agglutinin coupled to horseradish peroxidase (WGA-HRP) were performed in the gerbil. After iontophoretic injections of PHA-L in the lateral geniculate, a large number of PHA-L-immunoreactive fibers and nerve terminals were observed in the ventrolateral part of the suprachiasmatic nucleus. Nerve fibers were also present in the ventromedial and dorsolateral portions, particularly in the caudal half of the nucleus. PHA-L-immunoreactive nerve fibers continued outside the borders of the suprachiasmatic nucleus to the adjacent anterior hypothalamic, the periventricular, and the subparaventricular areas. A moderate number of fibers entered the lateral hypothalamic area and the tuber cinerum via the optic tract and chiasm. Moreover, the paraventricular nucleus, the supraoptic nucleus, the medial preoptic area, the lateral preoptic area, and the supramammillary nucleus contained a few labeled fibers. In all parts of the hypothalamus receiving an input from the lateral geniculate, fine beaded immunoreactive fibers with varicosities and nerve terminals were observed, some of which were found in close apposition to hypothalamic neurons. Only after labeling of neurons in the intergeniculate leaflet of the lateral geniculate nucleus, fibers were found in the hypothalamus. This topographical organization of the geniculohypothalamic pathway was supported by retrograde tracing after injections of WGA-HRP in the suprachiasmatic area. In these experiments, retrograde labeled neurons were observed in the intergeniculate leaflet and, in agreement with the anterograde studies, most of labeling was observed in the ipsilateral side. These results confirm that the suprachiasmatic nucleus receives a substantial input from the intergeniculate leaflet of the lateral geniculate. Moreover, the present data demonstrate that the suprachiasmatic nucleus is not the only nucleus that receives a direct visual input. Thus other hypothalamic areas might be influenced by a direct rhythmic neuronal input as well.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center