Origin, course, and laterality of spinocerebellar axons in the North American opossum, Didelphis virginiana

Jonathan R. Terman, Xian M. Wang, George F. Martin

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Abstract

Spinocerebellar axons have been studied extensively in placental mammals, but there have been no full reports on their origin, laterality, or spinal course in any marsupial. We have used the North American opossum (Didelphis virginiana) to obtain such information and to ask whether any spinocerebellar neurons innervate both the anterior and posterior lobes of the cerebellum through axonal collaterals. To identify spinal neurons that project to the cerebellum, we employed the retrograde transport of Fluoro- Gold (FG) from the anterior lobe, the main target of spinocerebellar axons. In some cases, cerebellar injections of FG were combined with hemisections of the rostral cervical or midthoracic spinal cord, so that laterality of spinocerebellar connections could be established. To determine whether single neurons project to both the anterior lobe and the posterior lobe, injections of Fast Blue (FB) into the anterior lobe were combined with injections of Diamidino yellow (DY) or rhodamine B dextran (RBD) into the posterior lobe, or vice versa. Following injections of FG into the anterior lobe, neurons were labeled throughout the length of the spinal cord, which differed in laminar distribution and laterality of their projections. Among other areas, neurons were labeled in the central cervical nucleus, the nucleus centrobasalis, Clarke's nucleus, the dorsal horn dorsal spinocerebellar tract area, the spinal border region, and Stilling's nucleus. When anterior lobe injections of FB were combined with injections of RBD or DY into the posterior lobe, or vice versa, some double-labeled neurons were present in all major spinocerebellar groups. Cerebellar injections of FG also retrogradely labeled spinocerebellar axons, allowing us to document their locations in the gray matter as well as within the periphery of the lateral and ventral funiculi at all spinal levels. A few spinocerebellar axons also were found in the dorsal funiculus (a dorsal column-spinocerebellar tract), which appeared to originate from neurons in the dorsal part of Clarke's nucleus from the ninth thoracic segment to the first lumbar segment. Our results indicate that spinocerebellar axons in the marsupial opossum are generally comparable in origin, course, and laterality to the same axons in the placental mammals studied to date.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)528-547
Number of pages20
JournalAnatomical Record
Volume251
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 1998

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Keywords

  • Central cervical nucleus
  • Cerebellum
  • Clarke's nucleus
  • Marsupial
  • Spinal border cell
  • Spinal cord
  • Stilling's nucleus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)

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