Light- and electron-microscopic localization of primary dental afferents to medullary dorsal horn (pars caudalis)

Michael A. Henry, Lesnick E. Westrum, Lonnie R. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Light-microscopic (LM) and ultrastructural (electron-microscopic, or EM) identification of primary dental afferents to medullary dorsal horn (MDH) was demonstrated in the cat following injections of horseradish peroxidase (HRP) into pulpal chambers of unilateral maxillary and mandibular posterior teeth, including the cuspids. Use of a new osmication protocol improved and simplified the EM localization of reaction product within the brain stem terminals. LM examination showed that the projection pattern varied between the different levels of MDH. At caudal levels, the labeling was primarily confined to a narrow band consisting of a dense projection to the dorsomedial portion of laminae I and superficial II and a less intense projection to lamina V. The pattern to rostral levels became increasingly more dense and extensive within these same laminae. LM examination of the tooth apex region showed that a limited spread to the periodontal ligament occurred in some cases. EM investigation of the ipsilateral MDH demonstrated reaction product in terminals with synaptic vesicles that are presynaptic to small and medium-sized dendrites. Labeled axonal endings in close association with cell bodies were also observed. No labeled structures were identified in the contralateral MDH. Some of the reaction product found with EM was below the LM limit of resolution, and thus ultrastructural investigation is necessary for a complete analysis of any pathway when using HRP.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)291-307
Number of pages17
JournalSomatosensory & Motor Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1986

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Sensory Systems


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