Distinct brainstem and forebrain circuits receiving tracheal sensory neuron inputs revealed using a novel conditional anterograde transsynaptic viral tracing system.
Brain stem projections of the glossopharyngeal and vagus nerves in the cat were studied using the anterograde transport of horseradish peroxidase (HRP). Crystalline HRP was applied to the proximal cut ends of the nerves for a period of 4-10.5 h, and after a survival time of 24-120 h, transverse and horizontal sections of the brain stem were processed according to the tetramethylbenzidine method. Labeled fibers from both nerves were found to project bilaterally to the solitary complex, and ipsilaterally to the ventral region of the external cuneate nucleus and to the medial region of the nucleus praepositus hypoglossi, just dorsolateral to the medial longitudinal fasciculus. Within the solitary complex terminal labeling was found in the parvocellular, ventrolateral, lateral, medial and commissural solitary nuclei. Exclusive glossopharyngeal nerve projections were found ipsilaterally in the rostral dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus, the ventrolateral portion of the medial cuneate nucleus, the dorsal part of the nuclei caudalis and interpolaris of the trigeminal complex, the nuclei insulae cuneati lateralis, and the dorsolateral aspect of the nucleus medullae oblongata centralis. Finally, in the area postrema a bilateral projection of vagal and an ipsilateral projection of glossopharyngeal fibers were found. These findings demonstrate that the glossopharyngeal nerve has more widely distributed brain stem projections that the vagus nerve and provide essential information on projection sites of visceral and taste inputs to the central nervous system.