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Jaw muscle spindle afferents coordinate multiple orofacial motoneurons via common premotor neurons in rats: an electrophysiological and anatomical study

Zhang, J;Luo, P;Ro, JY;Xiong, H;

Jaw muscle spindle afferents (JMSA) in the mesencephalic trigeminal nucleus (Vme) project to the parvocellular reticular nucleus (PCRt) and dorsomedial spinal trigeminal nucleus (dm-Vsp). A number of premotor neurons that project to the trigeminal motor nucleus (Vmo), facial nucleus (VII) and hypoglossal nucleus (XII) are also located in the PCRt and dm-Vsp. In this study, we examined whether these premotor neurons serve as common relay pool for relaying JMSA to multiple orofacial motoneurons. JMSA inputs to the PCRt and dm-Vsp neurons were verified by recording extracellular responses to electrical stimulation of the caudal Vme or masseter nerve, mechanical stimulation of jaw muscles and jaw opening. After recording, biocytin in recording electrode was inotophorized into recording sites. Biocytin-Iabeled fibers traveled to the Vmo, VII, XII, and the nucleus ambiguus (Amb). Labeled boutons were seen in close apposition with Nissl-stained motoneurons in the Vmo, VII, XII and Amb. In addition, an anterograde tracer (biotinylated dextran amine) was iontophorized into the caudal Vme, and a retrograde tracer (Cholera toxin B subunit) was delivered into either the VII or Xll to identify VII and XII premotor neurons that receive JMSA input. Contacts between labeled Vme neuronal boutons and premotor neurons were observed in the PCRt and adjacent dm-Vsp. Confocal microscopic observations confirmed close contacts between Vme boutons and VII and XII premotor neurons. This study provides evidence that JMSA may coordinate activities of multiple orofacial motor nuclei, including Vmo, VII, XII and Amb in the brainstem via a common premotor neuron pool.