CNS innervation of posterior cricoarytenoid muscles: A transneuronal labeling study

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Waldbaum S, Hadziefendic S, Erokwu B, Zaidi SI, and Haxhiu MA (2001) CNS innervation of posterior cricoarytenoid muscles: A transneuronal labeling study. Respir Physiol 126:2 113– 25.

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Abstract: The CNS cell groups that project to neurons, which innervate the posterior cricoarytenoid muscles (PCA), were identified by the viral retrograde transneuronal labeling method. Pseudorabies virus (PRV) was injected into the PCA of C8 spinal rats and after 5 days survival, brain tissue sections were processed for immunohistochemical detection of PRV. Retrogradely labeled motor neurons innervating the PCA were seen in the nucleus ambiguus and in the area ventral to it. Neurons innervating the PCA motoneurons were found throughout the ventral aspect of the medulla oblongata, in the nucleus tractus solitarius, and in the pons. Labeling was present in the midbrain periaquaductal gray, in the lateral and paraventricular hypothalamic nuclei, in the amygdaloid complex, in the hippocampus, and within the piriform cortex. In summary, the motor neurons that control PCA activity are innervated predominantly by a network of neurons that lie along the neuraxis, in the regions known to be involved in regulation of respiratory output and autonomic functions.

Keywords: Labeling; transneuronal; Larynx; recurrent laryngeal nerve; Mammals; rat; Muscle; posterior cricoarytenoid; central innervation; Upper airways; larynx


  • Animal study in rats using retrograde transneuronal tract tracing with viral labeling to determine the sites of projection to the posterior cricoarytenoid muscles. Primary motor neurons were in the nucleus ambiguus and adjacent area. Innervation to these motor neurons was found in the medulla and pons, and more rostrally, in the hippocampus and amygdala. Such innervation, if conserved in humans, could underlie case reports of severe tracheal constriction during seizure Tavee and Morris 2008.