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J Comp Neurol. 1979 Oct 15;187(4):703-24.

Regional topography within noradrenergic locus coeruleus as revealed by retrograde transport of horseradish peroxidase.


A hitherto unsuspected degree of regional topographic organization in the noradrenergic nucleus, locus coeruleus, was revealed by the use of retrograde transport of horseradish peroxidase (HRP) from terminal areas receiving noradrenergic innervation. HRP was injected into hippocampus, hypothalamus, thalamus, caudate-putamen, septum, amygdala-piriform cortex, cerebellum and cortex. Successful transport was obtained from all areas, including the caudate-putamen and cerebral cortex. The pattern of HRP positive cells in the ipsilateral locus coeruleus was markedly different depending on the location of the HRP injection. Thus, hippocampal injections labeled cells in the dorsal locus coeruleus but not at all in the ventral tip. Injections of HRP into caudate-putamen or cerebellum labeled the ventral tip along with the rest of the dorsal portion. HRP injections into the septum labeled cells only in the dorsal half of the dorsal locus coeruleus. There thus exists a three tier division of locus coeruleus into the ventral one third, dorsal one third and intermediate one third. A further division was seen in the anterior-posterior plane with HRP injections into the thalamus labeling the posterior pole of locus very intensely but with little transport to more anterior levels; conversely HRP injection into the hypothalamus resulted in intense labeling only in the anterior pole of locus coeruleus. Amygdala-piriform cortex HRP injections revealed a further pattern with very intensely reactive cells scattered sparsely throughout the nucleus. Cortical HRP injections yielded weaker labeling also in occasional, scattered cells. All HRP transport to locus coeruleus was shown to be noradrenergic by degeneration with 6-hydroxydopamine and due to terminal, rather than fiber of passage, uptake by control injection into the dorsal NA bundle. It is concluded that the locus coeruleus is not an homogenous nucleus with respect to the origin of the noradrenergic projections to sundry forebrain, spinal and cerebellar areas but is comprised of distinct subdivisions of noradrenergic neurons.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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