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J Comp Neurol. 1996 Jul 8;370(4):501-23.

Transneuronal pathways to the vestibulocerebellum.

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Department of Otolaryngology, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston 77555-1063, USA.
U TX Med Branch, Galveston


The alpha-herpes virus (pseudorabies, PRV) was used to observe central nervous system (CNS) pathways associated with the vestibulocerebellar system. Retrograde transneuronal migration of alpha-herpes virions from specific lobules of the gerbil and rat vestibulo-cerebellar cortex was detected immunohistochemically. Using a time series analysis, progression of infection along polyneuronal cerebellar afferent pathways was examined. Pressure injections of > 20 nanoliters of a 10(8) plaque forming units (pfu) per ml solution of virus were sufficient to initiate an infectious locus which resulted in labeled neurons in the inferior olivary subnuclei, vestibular nuclei, and their afferent cell groups in a progressive temporal fashion and in growing complexity with increasing incubation time. We show that climbing fibers and some other cerebellar afferent fibers transported the virus retrogradely from the cerebellum within 24 hours. One to three days after cerebellar infection discrete cell groups were labeled and appropriate laterality within crossed projections was preserved. Subsequent nuclei labeled with PRV after infection of the flocculus/paraflocculus, or nodulus/uvula, included the following: vestibular (e.g., z) and inferior olivary nuclei (e.g., dorsal cap), accessory oculomotor (e.g., Darkschewitsch n.) and accessory optic related nuclei, (e.g., the nucleus of the optic tract, and the medial terminal nucleus); noradrenergic, raphe, and reticular cell groups (e.g., locus coeruleus, dorsal raphe, raphe pontis, and the lateral reticular tract); other vestibulocerebellum sites, the periaqueductal gray, substantia nigra, hippocampus, thalamus and hypothalamus, amygdala, septal nuclei, and the frontal, cingulate, entorhinal, perirhinal, and insular cortices. However, there were differences in the resulting labeling between infection in either region. Double-labeling experiments revealed that vestibular efferent neurons are located adjacent to, but are not included among, flocculus-projecting supragenual neurons. PRV transport from the vestibular labyrinth and cervical muscles also resulted in CNS infections. Virus propagation in situ provides specific connectivity information based on the functional transport across synapses. The findings support and extend anatomical data regarding vestibulo-olivo-cerebellar pathways.

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