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Neuroscience. 2017 Dec 4;365:158-178. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2017.09.050. Epub 2017 Oct 6.

Thalamo-insular pathway conveying orofacial muscle proprioception in the rat.

Author information

1
Department of Oral Anatomy and Neurobiology, Graduate School of Dentistry, Osaka University, Suita, Osaka 565-0871, Japan.
2
Department of Oral Anatomy and Neurobiology, Graduate School of Dentistry, Osaka University, Suita, Osaka 565-0871, Japan; Department of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics, Graduate School of Dentistry, Osaka University, Suita, Osaka 565-0871, Japan.
3
Department of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics, Graduate School of Dentistry, Osaka University, Suita, Osaka 565-0871, Japan.
4
Department of Neuroscience and Oral Physiology, Graduate School of Dentistry, Osaka University, Suita, Osaka 565-0871, Japan.
5
Division of Special Care Dentistry, Dental Hospital, Osaka University, Suita, Osaka 565-0871, Japan.
6
Division of Systrem Neuroscience, Kobe University Graduate School of Medicine, Kobe, Hyogo 650-0017, Japan.
7
Department of Oral Anatomy and Neurobiology, Graduate School of Dentistry, Osaka University, Suita, Osaka 565-0871, Japan. Electronic address: yoshida@dent.osaka-u.ac.jp.

Abstract

Little is known about how proprioceptive signals arising from muscles reach to higher brain regions such as the cerebral cortex. We have recently shown that a particular thalamic region, the caudo-ventromedial edge (VPMcvm) of ventral posteromedial thalamic nucleus (VPM), receives the proprioceptive signals from jaw-closing muscle spindles (JCMSs) in rats. In this study, we further addressed how the orofacial thalamic inputs from the JCMSs were transmitted from the thalamus (VPMcvm) to the cerebral cortex in rats. Injections of a retrograde and anterograde neuronal tracer, wheat-germ agglutinin-conjugated horseradish peroxidase (WGA-HRP), into the VPMcvm demonstrated that the thalamic pathway terminated mainly in a rostrocaudally narrow area in the dorsal part of granular insular cortex rostroventrally adjacent to the rostralmost part of the secondary somatosensory cortex (dGIrvs2). We also electrophysiologically confirmed that the dGIrvs2 received the proprioceptive inputs from JCMSs. To support the anatomical evidence of the VPMcvm-dGIrvs2 pathway, injections of a retrograde neuronal tracer Fluorogold into the dGIrvs2 demonstrated that the thalamic neurons projecting to the dGIrvs2 were confined in the VPMcvm and the parvicellular part of ventral posterior nucleus. In contrast, WGA-HRP injections into the lingual nerve area of core VPM demonstrated that axon terminals were mainly labeled in the core regions of the primary and secondary somatosensory cortices, which were far from the dGIrvs2. These results suggest that the dGIrvs2 is a specialized cortical region receiving the orofacial proprioceptive inputs. Functional contribution of the revealed JCMSs-VPMcvm-dGIrvs2 pathway to Tourette syndrome is also discussed.

KEYWORDS:

VPM; insula; muscle spindle; tic; tourette syndrome; trigeminal

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