The edinger‐westphal nucleus: Sources of input influencing accommodation, pupilloconstriction, and choroidal blood flow

Academic Article


  • This study used neuroanatomical techniques to investigate sources of afferents to the Edinger‐Westphal nucleus (EW) of the pigeon. The EW contains the parasympathetic preganglionic neurons that, by way of the oculomotor nerve, project to the ciliary ganglion (Narayanan and Narayanan, '76; Lyman and Mugnaini, '80). The ciliary ganglion, in turn, innervates the internal musculature of the eye; the ciliary body, the iris sphincter muscle, and the smooth muscle of choroidal blood vessels (Marwitt et al., '71; Pilar and Tuttle, '82), In the bird, the neurons in the ciliary ganglion that innervate the iris sphincter muscle and the ciliary body receive input specifically from cells in the lateral EW (EWl), whereas those that innervate choroidal blood vessels receive input from cells in the medial EW (EWm) (Reiner et al., '83). Thus neurons in the EWl mediate pupilloconstriction and accommodation, whereas neurons in the EWm modulate choroidal blood flow. To study the afferents to EW, injections of horseradish peroxidase (HRP) were placed in this nucleus. These injections resulted in labeled cells in the area pretectalis, a retinorecipient pretectal nucleus and the suprachiasmatic nucleus, a retinorecipient hypothalamic nucleus. We have previously identified both these areas as being sources of afferents to EW (Gamlin et al., '82, '84). In addition, these HRP injections into EW resulted in labeled cells in the medial mesencephalic reticular formation (MRF) lateral and ventral to the oculomotor nucleus and in a localized area of the rostral lateral mesencephalic reticular formation (LRF) dorsolateral to nucleus subpretectalis. Injections of tritiated amino acids into the MRF labeled the entire EW, while such injections into the LRF labeled only the lateral EW. Both of these projections were predominantly contralateral. This study has identified the sources of two previously undocumented inputs to the avian EW. Both sources of input, the MRF and rostral LRF, receive afferents from visuomotor areas of the telencephalon and visual structures in the midbrain. The MRF input to EW could have either direct or modulatory influences on pupil diameter, accommodation, and choroidal blood flow, The LRF input to EW could play a role in controlling accommodation and possibly the pupillary near response. Copyright © 1991 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.
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    Author List

  • Gamlin PDR; Reiner A
  • Start Page

  • 425
  • End Page

  • 438
  • Volume

  • 306
  • Issue

  • 3