Anterograde labeling of ventrolateral funiculus pathways with spinal enlargement connections in the adult rat spinal cord

Academic Article


  • The ventrolateral funiculus in the spinal cord has been identified as containing important ascending and descending pathways related to locomotion and interlimb coordination. The purpose of this descriptive study was to investigate the patterns of axon termination of long ascending and descending ventrolateral pathways within the cervical and lumbar enlargements of the adult rat spinal cord. To accomplish this, we made discrete unilateral injections of the tracer biotinylated dextran-amine (BDA) into the ventrolateral white matter at T9. Although some BDA-labeled axons with varicosities were found bilaterally at all cervical levels, particularly dense BDA labeling was observed in laminae VIII and IX ipsilaterally at the C6 and C8 levels. In the same animals, dense terminal labeling was found in the lumbar enlargement in medial lamina VII and ventromedial laminae VIII and IX contralaterally. This labeling was most apparent in the more rostral lumbar segments. These observations continue the characterization of inter-enlargement (long propriospinal) pathways, illustrating a substantial and largely reciprocal inter-enlargement network with large numbers of both ascending and descending ventrolateral commissural neurons. These pathways are anatomically well-suited to the task of interlimb coordination and to participate in the remarkable recovery of locomotor function seen in the rat following thoracic spinal cord injuries that spare as little as 20% of the total white matter cross sectional area. © 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
  • Authors

    Published In

  • Brain Research  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Reed WR; Shum-Siu A; Whelan A; Onifer SM; Magnuson DSK
  • Start Page

  • 76
  • End Page

  • 84
  • Volume

  • 1302