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J Comp Neurol. 2008 Dec 10;511(5):628-57. doi: 10.1002/cne.21870.

Inputs to the ventrolateral bed nucleus of the stria terminalis.

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Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri 63110, USA.


The ventrolateral bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BSTvl) receives direct input from two specific subpopulations of neurons in the nucleus tractus solitarius (NTS). It is heavily innervated by aldosterone-sensitive NTS neurons, which are selectively activated by sodium depletion, and by the A2 noradrenergic neurons, which are activated by visceral and immune- and stress-related stimuli. Here, we used a retrograde neuronal tracer to identify other brain sites that innervate the BSTvl. Five general brain regions contained retrogradely labeled neurons: cerebral cortex (infralimbic and insular regions), rostral forebrain structures (subfornical organ, organum vasculosum of the lamina terminalis, taenia tecta, nucleus accumbens, lateral septum, endopiriform nucleus, dorsal BST, substantia innominata, and, most prominently the amygdala--primarily its basomedial and central subnuclei), thalamus (central medial, intermediodorsal, reuniens, and, most prominently the paraventricular thalamic nucleus), hypothalamus (medial preoptic area, perifornical, arcuate, dorsomedial, parasubthalamic, and posterior hypothalamic nuclei), and brainstem (periaqueductal gray matter, dorsal and central superior raphe nuclei, parabrachial nucleus, pre-locus coeruleus region, NTS, and A1 noradrenergic neurons in the caudal ventrolateral medulla). In the arcuate hypothalamic nucleus, some retrogradely labeled neurons contained either agouti-related peptide or cocaine/amphetamine-regulated transcript. Of the numerous retrogradely labeled neurons in the perifornical hypothalamic area, few contained melanin-concentrating hormone or orexin. In the brainstem, many retrogradely labeled neurons were either serotoninergic or catecholaminergic. In summary, the BSTvl receives inputs from a variety of brain sites implicated in hunger, salt and water intake, stress, arousal, and reward.

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