Monosynaptic projections from the medullary gigantocellular reticular formation to sympathetic preganglionic neurons in the thoracic spinal cord

Sue A. Aicher, Donald J. Reis, Raluca Nicolae, Teresa A. Milner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Microinjection of L‐glutamate into a restricted area of the medullary gigantocellular reticular formation, the gigantocellular depressor area (GiDA), lowers arterial pressure. Unlike the nuclei tractus solitarii and the caudal ventrolateral medulla, the two principle medullary vasodepressor areas, the GiDA projects directly to the spinal cord and not to the rostral ventrolateral medulla (Aicher et al. [1994] Neuroscience 60:761–779). We investigated whether neurons within GiDA directly innervate autonomic areas of the thoracic spinal cord. FluroGold injected into the thoracic spinal cord labeled neurons within functionally defined vasodepressor sites in the GiDA in the same animal. To examine the morphology of GiDA efferents to the spinal cord, the anterograde tracer Phaseolus vulgaris‐leucoagglutinin was iontophoresed into the GiDA, and efferent processes in the intermediolateral cell column and nucleus intercalatus spinalis were examined by electron microscopy. Labeling was confined to axons and axon terminals (n = 144) that usually contained primarily small clear vesicles, contacted large and small dendrites, and formed symmetric (inhibitory) synapses. To determine whether some of the postsynaptic targets of GiDA efferent terminals in the thoracic spinal cord were sympathoadrenal preganglionic neurons, these neurons were retrogradely labeled from the adrenal gland with Fluoro‐Gold in rats that had deposits of the anterograde tracer, biotinylated dextran amine (BDA), in the GiDA. Some BDA‐containing terminals formed symmetric synapses with dendrites containing Fluoro‐Gold. We conclude that a population of neurons in the GiDA monosynaptically innervates some sympathetic preganglionic neurons. The findings suggest the presence of a novel reticulospinal sympathoinhibitory projection originating in the GiDA. © 1995 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)563-580
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 25 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • Fluoro‐Gold
  • biotinylated dextran amine
  • cardiovascular
  • rat
  • ultrastructure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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