Contralateral cortical projection to the mediodorsal thalamic nucleus: Origin and synaptic organization in the rat

L. Négyessy, J. Hámori, M. Bentivoglio

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The origin of the corticothalamic projections to the contralateral mediodorsal nucleus, the collateralization of cortical fibers and their synaptic organization in the ipsi- and contralateral mediodorsal nuclei were investigated in adult rats with double retrograde fluorescent and anterograde tracing. After tracer injections in the mediodorsal nuclei on either side, neurons were retrogradely labeled in all the areas of the contralateral prefrontal cortex in which ipsilateral labeling was also observed. Contralateral corticothalamic cells accounted for 15% of the labeled neurons in the orbital and agranular insular areas, while their proportion was lower (3%) in the anterior cingulate cortex. Up to 70% of the contralateral cortical neurons were double labeled by bilateral injections in the mediodorsal nuclei. At the electron microscopic level, unilateral injections of biotinylated dextran-amine in the orbitofrontal cortex resulted in anterograde labeling of small terminals and a few large boutons in the ipsilateral mediodorsal nucleus, while only small boutons were identified contralaterally. The diameter of postsynaptic dendritic profiles contacted by labeled small cortical endings was significantly larger in the ipsilateral mediodorsal nucleus than contralaterally. These findings demonstrate that dense contralateral cortical projections to the mediodorsal nucleus derive from the orbital and agranular insular areas, and that crossed corticothalamic afferents are mostly formed by collaterals of the ipsilateral connections. Our observations also point out the heterogeneity of corticothalamic boutons in the rat mediodorsal nucleus and morphological differences in the synaptic organization of prefrontal fibers innervating the two sides, indicating that ipsilateral cortical afferents may be more proximally distributed than crossed cortical fibers on dendrites of mediodorsal neurons.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)741-753
Number of pages13
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Feb 24 1998



  • Axon collaterals
  • Convergence
  • Corticothalamic afferents
  • Crossed corticothalamic connections
  • Prefrontal cortex
  • Thalamocortical neurons

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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