Types of taste circuits synaptically linked to a few geniculate ganglion neurons

Faisal N. Zaidi, Krista Todd, Lynn Enquist, Mark C. Whitehead

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

27 Scopus citations

Abstract

The present study evaluates the central circuits that are synaptically engaged by very small subsets of the total population of geniculate ganglion cells to test the hypothesis that taste ganglion cells are heterogeneous in terms of their central connections. We used trans-synaptic anterograde pseudorabies virus labeling of fungiform taste papillae to infect single or small numbers of geniculate ganglion cells, together with the central neurons with which they connect, to define differential patterns of synaptically linked neurons in the taste pathway. Labeled brain cells were localized within known gustatory regions, including the rostral central subdivision (RC) of the nucleus of the solitary tract (NST), the principal site where geniculate axons synapse, and the site containing most of the cells that project to the parabrachial nucleus (PBN) of the pons. Cells were also located in the rostral lateral NST subdivision (RL), a site of trigeminal and sparse geniculate input, and the ventral NST (V) and medullary reticular formation (RF), a caudal brainstem pathway leading to reflexive oromotor functions. Comparisons among cases, each with a random, very small subset of labeled geniculate neurons, revealed "types" of central neural circuits consistent with a differential engagement of either the ascending or the local, intramedullary pathway by different classes of ganglion cells. We conclude that taste ganglion cells are heterogeneous in terms of their central connectivity, some engaging, predominantly, the ascending "lemniscal," taste pathway, a circuit associated with higher order discriminative and homeostatic functions, others engaging the "local," intramedullary "reflex" circuit that mediates ingestion and rejection oromotor behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)753-772
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Volume511
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 20 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuroscience(all)

Keywords

  • Cell types
  • Connections
  • Geniculate ganglion
  • Gustatory system
  • Nucleus of the solitary tract
  • Pathways
  • Synaptic organization
  • Taste
  • Taste bud
  • Tract tracing
  • Virus

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