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Brain Res. 1988 Jul 5;455(1):187-91.

Spinal origin of sympathetic preganglionic neurons in the rat.

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


The segmental distribution of sympathetic preganglionic neurons (SPNs) and dorsal root ganglion cells (DRGs) was studied after Fluoro-gold injections into the major sympathetic ganglia and adrenal gland in rats. A quantitative assessment of the segmental and nuclear locations was made. Four general patterns of innervation were apparent: (1) a large number of SPNs (1000-2000/ganglion) innervate the sympathetic ganglia which control head or thoracic organs and a relatively small number of SPNs (100-400/ganglion) innervate the sympathetic ganglia controlling the gut, kidney, and pelvic organs; this difference in density of innervation probably relates to the level of fine control that can occur in these end organs by the SPNs; (2) the reverse pattern is seen in the DRG labeling where a large number of DRGs were labeled after Fluoro-gold injections into the preaortic ganglia (celiac, superior, and inferior mesenteric) and a small number were labeled after injections into the cervical sympathetic ganglia; (3) the intermediolateral cell column is the main source of SPNs except for the inferior mesenteric ganglion which is innervated predominantly by SPNs originating in the central autonomic nucleus (75%); the lateral funiculus is a source of SPNs mainly for the cervical sympathetic ganglia; and (4) each sympathetic ganglion and the adrenal gland receives a multisegmental SPN and DRG input with one segment being the predominant source of the innervation. The adrenal gland shows an intermediate position in terms of the density of SPN input (approximately 800 cells) and dorsal root input (approximately 300 cells); it has a widespread segmental input (T4-T12) with the T8 segment being the major source.

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