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. Copyright © 2001 Elsevier Science B.V.
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