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Lateral parabrachial neurons innervate orexin neurons projecting to brainstem arousal areas in the rat

Arima, Y;Yokota, S;Fujitani, M;

Orexin (ORX) neurons in the hypothalamus send their axons to arousal-promoting areas. We have previously shown that glutamatergic neurons in the lateral parabrachial nucleus (LPB) innervate ORX neurons. In this study, we examined potential pathways from the LPB to ORX neurons projecting to arousal-promoting areas in the brainstem by a combination of tract-tracing techniques in male Wistar rats. We injected the anterograde tracer biotinylated dextranamine (BDA) into the LPB and the retrograde tracer cholera toxin B subunit (CTb) into the ventral tegmental area, dorsal raphe nucleus, pedunculopontine tegmental nucleus, laterodorsal tegmental area, or locus coeruleus (LC). We then analyzed the BDA-labeled fibers and ORX-immunoreactive neurons in the hypothalamus. We found that double-labeled ORX and CTb neurons were the most abundant after CTb was injected into the LC. We also observed prominently overlapping distribution of BDA-labeled fibers, arising from neurons located in the lateral-most part of the dorsomedial nucleus and adjacent dorsal perifornical area. In these areas, we confirmed by confocal microscopy that BDA-labeled synaptophysin-immunoreactive axon terminals were in contiguity with cell bodies and dendrites of CTb-labeled ORX-immunoreactive neurons. These results suggest that the LPB innervates arousal-promoting areas via ORX neurons and is likely to promote arousal responses to stimuli.