Commissural propriospinal connections between the lateral aspects of laminae III-IV in the lumbar spinal cord of rats

Mihály Petkó, Gábor Veress, György Vereb, Jon Storm-Mathisen, Miklós Antal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

27 Citations (Scopus)


It has been established that there is a strong functional link between sensory neural circuits on the two sides of the spinal cord. In one of our recent studies we provided a morphological confirmation of this functional phenomenon, presenting evidence for the presence of a direct commissural connection between the lateral aspects of the dorsal horn on the two sides of the lumbar spinal cord. By using a combination of neural tracing and immunocytochemical detection of neural markers like vesicular glutamate transporters, glutamic acid decarboxylase, glycine transporter, and met-enkephalin (which are characteristic of various subsets of excitatory and inhibitory neurons), we investigated here the distribution, synaptic relations, and neurochemical characteristics of the commissural axon terminals. We found that the cells of origin of commissural fibers in the lateral aspect of the dorsal horn were confined to laminae III-IV and projected to the corresponding area of the contralateral gray matter. Most of the commissural axon terminals established synaptic contacts with dendrites. Axospinous or axosomatic synaptic contacts were found in limited numbers. We demonstrated that interactions among commissural neurons also exist. More than three-fourths of the labeled axon terminals were immunostained for glutamic acid decarboxylase and/or glycine transporter, but none of them showed positive immunoreaction for met-enkephalin and vesicular glutamate transporters. The results indicate that there is a substantial reciprocal commissural synaptic interaction between the lateral aspects of laminae III-IV on the two sides of the lumbar spinal cord and that this pathway may transmit both inhibitory and excitatory signals to their postsynaptic targets.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)364-377
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 20 2004


  • Amino acid neurotransmitters
  • Immunocytochemistry
  • Neural tracing
  • Propriospinal neurons
  • Spinal dorsal horn

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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