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Exp Brain Res. 1988;73(1):69-77.

Projections from the ventral tegmental area and mesencephalic raphe to the dorsal raphe nucleus in the rat. Evidence for a minor dopaminergic component.

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Department of Medical Cell Research, University of Lund, Sweden.


The origins of the dopaminergic innervation of the rat dorsal raphe nucleus (NRD) have been investigated using a combination of fluorescent retrograde tracing and fluorescence histochemistry. Stereotaxic microinjections of True Blue were placed in the central, caudal and lateral portions of the NRD, and after 6-12 days survival the brains were processed for fluorescence histochemical detection of catecholamines. Retrogradely labeled neurons were searched for in the diencephalic A11 and A13 dopaminergic cell groups, substantia nigra, ventral tegmental area (VTA) and the linear, central superior and dorsal raphe nuclei. The various NRD injections consistently resulted in retrograde labeling of a small number of catecholamine-containing, presumed dopaminergic cell bodies, confined mainly to three regions: the VTA, the linear and central superior raphe nuclei and the NRD itself. The present findings indicate that not only dopaminergic neurons in the VTA but also the system of catecholamine-containing cells, extending dorsally and caudally from the VTA within the midline raphe area, project to the NRD. Although often similar in size, shape and distribution to the catecholaminergic neurons the majority of retrogradely labeled cells in these regions were, however, found to be non-catecholaminergic.

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