Propriospinal neurons in the C1-C2 spinal segments project to the L5-S1 segments of the rat spinal cord

Kenneth E. Miller, Vickie D. Douglas, A. Brent Richards, Margaret J. Chandler, Robert D. Foreman

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46 Scopus citations


Physiological studies indicate that neurons in the upper cervical spinal cord have descending projections to the lumbosacral spinal cord and mediate inhibition of dorsal horn neurons activated from afferent input. In the present study, retrograde tracing techniques were used to examine the distribution of propriospinal neurons in C1-C2 spinal segments that project to lumbosacral spinal segments. Fluorogold or horseradish peroxidase were injected unilaterally or bilaterally into the L5-S1 spinal segments. After 2- 4 days, rats were perfused with fixative and C1-C2 spinal segments were processed for retrograde labeling. Numerous neurons were found in the C1-C2 segments. In unilaterally and bilaterally injected rats, retrogradely labeled neurons were located on both the ipsilateral and contralateral sides. Retrogradely labeled neurons were located in the following locations: lateral cervical and spinal nuclei, nucleus proprius, ventral horn and the central gray region (area X). These studies demonstrate a descending projection from C1 -C2 segments to the lower lumbar and sacral spinal cord. We hypothesize that many of these C1-C2 propriospinal neurons are important in modulating responses of spinal neurons at lower segmental levels to various peripheral stimuli.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-47
Number of pages5
JournalBrain Research Bulletin
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Sep 1998


  • Descending inhibition
  • Fluorogold
  • Horseradish peroxidase
  • Retrograde tracing


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