Comparison of the distributions of urocortin-containing and cholinergic neurons in the perioculomotor midbrain of the cat and macaque

Paul J. May, Anton J. Reiner, Andrey E. Ryabinin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Urocortin is a novel neurotransmitter that appears to play a role in eating and drinking behavior. Most urocortin-positive (urocortin+) neurons in rodents are found in the cytoarchitecturally defined Edinger-Westphal nucleus (EW). However, the EW is traditionally described as the source of the preganglionic parasympathetic outflow to the ciliary ganglion. We examined the distribution of urocortin+ cells and motoneurons by use of immunohistochemical staining for this peptide and for choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) in macaque monkeys, in which most preganglionic motoneurons inhabit the EW, and in cats, in which most do not. In both species, lack of overt double labeling indicated that the ChAT+ and urocortin+ cells are separate populations. In the monkey, most nonoculomotor ChAT+ neurons were found within the EW. In contrast, urocortin+ cells were distributed mainly between the oculomotor nuclei and in the supraoculomotor area. In the cat, most nonoculomotor ChAT+ cells were located in the supraoculomotor area and anteromedian nucleus. Few were present in the cat EW. Instead, this nucleus was filled with urocortin+ cells. These results highlight the fact the term EW has come to indicate different nuclei in different species. Consequently, we have adopted the identifiers preganglionic (EWPG) and urocortin-containing (EWU) to designate the cytoarchitecturally defined EW nuclei in monkeys and cats, respectively. Furthermore, we propose a new open-ended nomenclature for the perioculomotor (pIII) cells groups that have distinctive projections and neurochemical signatures. This will allow more effective scientific discourse on the connections and function of groups such as the periculomotor urocortin (pIIIU) and preganglionic (pIIIPG) populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1300-1316
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 20 2008


  • Appetite
  • Edinger-Westphal
  • Lens
  • Oculomotor
  • Parasympathetic
  • Preganglionic
  • Pupil
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Comparison of the distributions of urocortin-containing and cholinergic neurons in the perioculomotor midbrain of the cat and macaque'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this