The different subdivisions along the mediolateral extent of the superficial dorsal horn of the spinal cord are generally regarded as identical structures that execute the function of sensory information processing without any significant communication with other regions of the spinal gray matter. In contrast to this standing, here we endeavor to show that neural assemblies along the mediolateral extent of laminae I-IV cannot be regarded as identical structures. After injecting Phaseolus vulgaris leucoagglutinin and biotinylated dextran amine into various areas of the superficial dorsal horn (laminae I-IV) at the level of the lumbar spinal cord in rats, we have demonstrated that the medial and lateral areas of the superficial dorsal horn show the following distinct features in their propriospinal afferent and efferent connections: 1) A 300- to 400-μm-long section of the medial aspects of laminae I-IV projects to and receives afferent fibers from a three segment long compartment of the spinal dorsal gray matter, whereas the same length of the lateral aspects of laminae I-IV projects to and receives afferent fibers from the entire rostrocaudal extent of the lumbar spinal cord. 2) The medial aspects of laminae I-IV project extensively to the lateral areas of the superficial dorsal horn. In contrast to this, the lateral areas of laminae I-IV, with the exception of a few fibers at the segmental level, do not project back to the medial territories. 3) There is a substantial direct commissural connection between the lateral aspects of laminae I-IV on the two sides of the lumbar spinal cord. The medial part of laminae I-IV, however, does not establish any direct connection with the gray matter on the opposite side. 4) The lateral aspects of laminae I-IV appear to be the primary source of fibers projecting to the ipsi- and contralateral ventral horns and supraspinal brain centers. Projecting fibers arise from the medial subdivision of laminae I-IV in a substantially lower number. The findings indicate that the medial and lateral areas of the superficial spinal dorsal horn of rats may play different roles in sensory information processing. (C) 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
|Number of pages||14|
|Journal||Journal of Comparative Neurology|
|Publication status||Published - Jun 26 2000|
- Local neural circuits
- Neural tracing
- Sensory information processing
ASJC Scopus subject areas