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Mesopontine rostromedial tegmental nucleus neurons projecting to the dorsal raphe and pedunculopontine tegmental nucleus: psychostimulant-elicited Fos expression and collateralization

Lavezzi, HN;Parsley, KP;Zahm, DS;

The mesopontine rostromedial tegmental nucleus (RMTg) is a GABAergic structure in the ventral midbrain and rostral pons that, when activated, inhibits dopaminergic neurons in the ventral tegmental area and substantia nigra compacta. Additional strong outputs from the RMTg to the pedunculopontine tegmental nucleus pars dissipata, dorsal raphe nucleus, and the pontomedullary gigantocellular reticular formation were identified by anterograde tracing. RMTg neurons projecting to the ventral tegmental area express the immediate early gene Fos upon psychostimulant administration. The present study was undertaken to determine if neurons in the RMTg that project to the additional structures listed above also express Fos upon psychostimulant administration and, if so, whether single neurons in the RMTg project to more than one of these structures. We found that about 50% of RMTg neurons exhibiting retrograde labeling after injections of retrograde tracer in the dorsal raphe or pars dissipata of the pedunculopontine tegmental nucleus express Fos after acute methamphetamine exposure. Also, we observed that a significant number of RMTg neurons project both to the ventral tegmental area and one of these structures. In contrast, methamphetamine-elicited Fos expression was not observed in RMTg neurons labeled with retrograde tracer following injections into the pontomedullary reticular formation. The findings suggest that the RMTg is an integrative modulator of multiple rostrally projecting structures.