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Brain Res. 1988 Jun 7;451(1-2):13-32.

Neurotoxic lesions of the dorsolateral pontomesencephalic tegmentum-cholinergic cell area in the cat. I. Effects upon the cholinergic innervation of the brain.

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Department of Neurology, McGill University, Montreal, Que., Canada.


Kainic acid was injected bilaterally (4.8 micrograms in 1.2 microliter each side) into the dorsolateral pontomesencephalic tegmentum of cats in order to destroy cholinergic cells which are located within the pedunculopontine tegmental (PPT), laterodorsal tegmental (LDT), parabrachial (PB), and locus ceruleus (LC) nuclei in this species. The neurotoxic lesions resulted in the destruction of the majority (approximately 60%) of choline acetyltransferase (ChAT)-immunoreactive neurons and a minority (approximately 35%) of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH)-immunoreactive neurons, as well as in the destruction of other chemically unidentified neurons, in the region. The effects of these lesions upon the cholinergic innervation of the brain were investigated by comparison of brains with and without lesions which were processed for acetylcholinesterase (AChE) silver, copper thiocholine histochemistry and ChAT radio-immunohistochemistry. In the forebrain, a major and significant decrease in AChE staining, measured by microdensitometry, and associated with a decrease in ChAT immunoreactivity was found in certain thalamic nuclei, including the dorsal lateral geniculate, lateral posterior, pulvinar, intralaminar, mediodorsal and reticular nuclei. All of these nuclei receive a rich cholinergic innervation evident in both AChE histochemistry and ChAT immunohistochemistry. No significant difference in AChE staining or ChAT immunoreactivity was detected in other thalamic nuclei or in the subthalamus, hypothalamus or basal forebrain. In the brainstem, a significant decrease of AChE staining and ChAT immunoreactivity was found in the superior colliculus and the medullary reticular formation, where ChAT-immunoreactive fibers were moderately dense in the normal animal. These results indicate that the pontomesencephalic cholinergic neurons may influence the forebrain by major projections to the thalamus, involving both relay and non-specific thalamocortical projection systems, and thus act as an integral component of the ascending reticular system. They may influence the brainstem by projections onto deep tectal neurons and other reticular neurons, notably those in the medullary reticular formation, and thus also affect bulbar and bulbospinal systems.

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