Using the transneuronal viral tracing method, the central nervous system (CNS) connections of the uterine horn were studied in virgin, pregnant, and in lactating rats. The frequency of viral labeling in the brain and the distribution of virus-infected neurons from the uterine horn were compared among groups. There was a marked difference in the frequency of viral labeling in the brain stem. In virgin rats more than half of the brain stems (5 out of 9) were labeled. In contrast, in pregnant animals viral-labeled neurons were detected in only a few cases (3 out of 16) and almost each brain stem of the lactating group was labeled (12 out of 13). A similar, less marked difference was observed in the hypothalamus. The pattern of distribution of infected neurons was similar in each group. In the brain stem, the nucleus of the solitary tract, dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus, area postrema, gigantocellular and paragigantocellular nucleus, ventrolateral medulla, A5 cell group, and caudal raphe nuclei were the most frequently labeled structures. In the diencephalon, viral-infected neurons were detected primarily in the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus. The telencephalon was devoid of infected cells. Data suggest that the CNS control of the uterine horn varies depending on reproductive status. The low frequency of brain labeling in pregnant rats may be related to the almost complete lack of sympathetic fibers in the uterus prior to parturition and the very high frequency of labeling in lactating animals to the postpartum hyperinnervation of the uterus.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Medical Laboratory Technology