Dedicated C-fiber vagal sensory afferent pathways to the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus

Jessica A. Fawley, Deborah M. Hegarty, Sue A. Aicher, Eric Beaumont, Michael C. Andresen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The nucleus of the solitary tract (NTS) receives viscerosensory information from the vagus nerve to regulate diverse homeostatic reflex functions. The NTS projects to a wide network of other brain regions, including the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus (PVN). Here we examined the synaptic characteristics of primary afferent pathways to PVN-projecting NTS neurons in rat brainstem slices. Expression of the Transient Receptor Potential Vanilloid receptor (TRPV1+ ) distinguishes C-fiber afferents within the solitary tract (ST) from A-fibers (TRPV1-). We used resiniferatoxin (RTX), a TRPV1 agonist, to differentiate the two. The variability in the latency (jitter) of evoked excitatory postsynaptic currents (ST-EPSCs) distinguished monosynaptic from polysynaptic ST-EPSCs. Rhodamine injected into PVN was retrogradely transported to identify PVN-projecting NTS neurons within brainstem slices. Graded shocks to the ST elicited all-or-none EPSCs in rhodamine-positive NTS neurons with latencies that had either low jitter (<200 µs – monosynaptic), high jitter (>200 µs - polysynaptic inputs) or both. RTX blocked ST-evoked TRPV1 + EPSCs whether mono- or polysynaptic. Most PVN-projecting NTS neurons (17/21 neurons) had at least one input polysynaptically connected to the ST. Compared to unlabeled NTS neurons, PVN-projecting NTS neurons were more likely to receive indirect inputs and be higher order. Surprisingly, sEPSC rates for PVN-projecting neurons were double that of unlabeled NTS neurons. The ST synaptic responses for PVN-projecting NTS neurons were either all TRPV1+ or all TRPV1-, including neurons that received both direct and indirect inputs. Overall, PVN-projecting NTS neurons received direct and indirect vagal afferent information with strict segregation regarding TRPV1 expression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number147625
JournalBrain research
StatePublished - Oct 15 2021


  • Hypothalamus
  • Paraventricular nucleus
  • Solitary tract nucleus
  • TRPV1
  • Vagal afferent

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology


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