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Brain structure & function

Identification of CNS neurons with polysynaptic connections to both the sympathetic and parasympathetic innervation of the submandibular gland.


PMID 24793620

Abstract

Coordinated modulation of sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous activity is required for physiological regulation of tissue function. Anatomically, whilst the peripheral sympathetic and parasympathetic pathways are separate, the distribution of premotor neurons in higher brain regions often overlaps. This co-distribution would enable coordinated regulation and might suggest individual premotor neurons could project to both sympathetic and parasympathetic outflows. To investigate this one submandibular gland was sympathectomized. One of two isogenic strains of the pseudorabies virus, expressing different fluorophores, was injected into the cut sympathetic nerve and the other into the submandibular gland. Independent labeling of the peripheral sympathetic and parasympathetic pathways was observed. Dual-labeled neurons were observed in many CNS regions known to be involved in regulating salivary function. We propose these observations highlight a common pattern of organization of the CNS, providing the anatomical framework for the fine control of organ function required for homeostatic regulation and the coordination of organ responses to enable complex behaviors.