Reticulospinal pathways in the ventrolateral funiculus with terminations in the cervical and lumbar enlargements of the adult rat spinal cord

Academic Article


  • In the mammalian spinal cord, the ventrolateral funiculus (VLF) has been identified as critical to postural control and locomotor function, in part due to the reticulospinal pathways it contains. The primary purpose of this descriptive study was to investigate the distribution of neurons in the medulla labeled retrogradely from the VLF and the intermediate gray matter of specific lumbar and cervical spinal cord segments in the adult rat. We made discrete injections of Fluoro-Ruby (FR) into the intermediate gray matter at the cervical (C) 5/6, 7/8 or lumbar (L) 2 segmental levels followed by a single injection of Fluoro-Gold (FG) into the right VLF at T9. Double-labeled medullary neurons were found primarily in the gigantocellular group of nuclei (Gi), distributed both ipsilaterally and contralaterally following cervical or lumbar FR injections. In addition, a substantial population of neurons contained within the vestibular group of nuclei was double labeled both ipsilaterally and contralaterally. We also identified a substantial population of Gi-related neurons located ipsilateral to the VLF injections that were double labeled following left unilateral FR injections at C5/6, C7/8 or L2. These results describe a substantial population of ipsilateral and commissural medullary neurons that project to both cervical and thoracolumbar segments. Two different populations of commissural neurons are described, one with axons that cross the midline rostral to T9, and one with axons that cross the midline caudal to T9. These observations provide strong additional evidence for a pattern of reticulo- and vestibulospinal projections that include substantial numbers of commissural neurons and project to multiple cervical and thoracolumbar levels. © 2008 IBRO.
  • Authors

    Published In

  • Neuroscience  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

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

  • 505
  • End Page

  • 517
  • Volume

  • 151
  • Issue

  • 2