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Brain Res Bull. 2008 Mar 18;75(2-4):467-73. doi: 10.1016/j.brainresbull.2007.10.028. Epub 2007 Nov 20.

Vomeronasal inputs to the rodent ventral striatum.

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Laboratorio de Neuroanatomía Humana, Departamento de Ciencias Médicas, Facultad de Medicina, Centro Regional de Investigaciones Biomédicas, Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha, Avda. Almansa 14, 02006 Albacete, Spain.


Vertebrates sense chemical signals through the olfactory and vomeronasal systems. In squamate reptiles, which possess the largest vomeronasal system of all vertebrates, the accessory olfactory bulb projects to the nucleus sphericus, which in turn projects to a portion of the ventral striatum known as olfactostriatum. Characteristically, the olfactostriatum is innervated by neuropeptide Y, tyrosine hydroxylase and serotonin immunoreactive fibers. In this study, the possibility that a structure similar to the reptilian olfactostriatum might be present in the mammalian brain has been investigated. Injections of dextran-amines have been aimed at the posteromedial cortical amygdaloid nucleus (the putative mammalian homologue of the reptilian nucleus sphericus) of rats and mice. The resulting anterograde labeling includes the olfactory tubercle, the islands of Calleja and sparse terminal fields in the shell of the nucleus accumbens and ventral pallidum. This projection has been confirmed by injections of retrograde tracers into the ventral striato-pallidum that render retrograde labeling in the posteromedial cortical amygdaloid nucleus. The analysis of the distribution of neuropeptide Y, tyrosine hydroxylase, serotonin and substance P in the ventral striato-pallidum of rats, and the anterograde tracing of the vomeronasal amygdaloid input in the same material confirm that, similar to reptiles, the ventral striatum of mammals includes a specialized vomeronasal structure (olfactory tubercle and islands of Calleja) displaying dense neuropeptide Y-, tyrosine hydroxylase- and serotonin-immunoreactive innervations. The possibility that parts of the accumbens shell and/or ventral pallidum could be included in the mammalian olfactostriatum cannot be discarded.

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