Experiments were performed in order to investigate, at the light- and electron-microscopic levels, the transneuronal transport of wheatgerm agglutinin conjugated with horseradish peroxidase (WGA:HRP) in the somatosensory system of rats. In five adult albino rats, various amounts of WGA:HRP at different concentrations were bilaterally injected in the dorsal column nuclei (DCN). In one additional animal, WGA:HRP was injected in one side, whereas free HRP was injected in the contralateral DCN. In another five rats, WGA:HRP was injected in the first somatosensory cortex (SI). The postinjection survival time of the animals ranged from 30 to 48 hr. The histochemical visualization of the enzyme was performed using either paraphenylenediamine-pyrocatechol (PPD-PC) or tetra-ethylbenzidine (TMB) as chromogens on adjacent horizontal serial sections. All the reacted samples were studied at the light-microscopic level, and sections from four animals were processed for the ultrastructural investigation. After DCN injections, a massive anterograde labeling was always observed in nucleus ventralis posterolateralis (VPL) of the thalamus, where also labeled neurons and glial cells were detected at both the light- and the electron-microscopic levels. Labeled neurons and terminals in the lateral border of nucleus reticularis (Re) of the thalamus were also observed after either DCN or SI injection of WGA:HRP. Our results show that WGA: HRP is effectively transported not only anterogradely and retrogradely through the somatosensory system of the rat, but also transneuronally. The transneuronal transfer of the tracer seems to be mainly related to the postlabeling survival time of the animal, and it does not occur when free HRP is injected. In controlled experimental conditions, WGA:HRP can therefore be useful for tracing secondary projections. Moreover, in the present report, the existence of a mediolateral arrangement of the projections of the somatosensory-related area of Re toward VPL is directly demonstrated. As for the histochemical procedure employed, differences in sensitivity are shown between PPD-PC and TMB, although the same general pattern of labeling is present with both chromogens.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sensory Systems