Morphology of inspiratory neurons located in the ventrolateral nucleus of the tractus solitarius of the cat

A. J. Berger, D. B. Averill, W. E. Cameron

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The morphology of 11 dorsal respiratory group (DRG) inspiratory neurons located in the ventrolateral nucleus of the solitary tract (vl‐NTS) was studied using the technique of intracellular labeling with the enzyme horseradish peroxidase (HRP). Six of these cells were cut in the transverse plane and had a mean somal diameter of 30.4 m̈m, while five others sectioned in the horizontal plane had a mean of 38.2 m̈m. These neurons produced an average of 6.2 primary dendrites (range: 4–10), many of which projected rostrally or caudally up to 1.0 mm from the cell bodies. These dendrites were oriented along the longitudinal axis; they ran parallel and ventral to the tractus solitarius. In general, all dendrites possessed numerous spines and appendages. Many axons could be traced for considerable distances within the medulla (in one instance, up to 8 mm). These axons were last discerned in the contralateral ventral medulla rostral to the level of their cell bodies. The axons of three neurons bifurcated in the ipsilateral medulla; one branch remained ipsilateral and projected caudally, while the other crossed the midline. A small number of counterstained cells of size similar to or larger than the HRP‐stained neurons formed a column that constituted the vl‐NTS. Based upon our observations of stained and counterstained cells, we conclude that the inspiratory neurons of the vl‐NTS are few in number and represent a morphologically homogeneous population. The primary orientation of the dendritic arbors of vl‐NTS inspiratory neurons appears to optimize the surface area available to receive synaptic contacts from sensory afferents emerging from the tractus solitarius.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)60-70
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 20 1984
Externally publishedYes


  • brain stem
  • dendrites
  • horseradish peroxidase
  • medulla
  • respiration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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