Projections from the spinal trigeminal nucleus to the cochlear nucleus in the rat

Charles André Haenggeli, Tan Pongstaporn, John R. Doucet, David K. Ryugo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


The integration of information across sensory modalities enables sound to be processed in the context of position, movement, and object identity. Inputs to the granule cell domain (GCD) of the cochlear nucleus have been shown to arise from somatosensory brain stem structures, but the nature of the projection from the spinal trigeminal nucleus is unknown. In the present study, we labeled spinal trigeminal neurons projecting to the cochlear nucleus using the retrograde tracer, Fast Blue, and mapped their distribution. In a second set of experiments, we injected the anterograde tracer biotinylated dextran amine into the spinal trigeminal nucleus and studied the resulting anterograde projections with light and electron microscopy. Spinal trigeminal neurons were distributed primarily in pars caudalis and interpolaris and provided inputs to the cochlear nucleus. Their axons gave rise to small (1-3 μm in diameter) en passant swellings and terminal boutons in the GCD and deep layers of the dorsal cochlear nucleus. Less frequently, larger (3-15 μm in diameter) lobulated endings known as mossy fibers were distributed within the GCD. Ventrally placed injections had an additional projection into the anteroventral cochlear nucleus, whereas dorsally placed injections had an additional projection into the posteroventral cochlear nucleus. All endings were filled with round synaptic vesicles and formed asymmetric specializations with postsynaptic targets, implying that they are excitatory in nature. The postsynaptic targets of these terminals included dendrites of granule cells. These projections provide a structural substrate for somatosensory information to influence auditory processing at the earliest level of the central auditory pathways.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)191-205
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 4 2005


  • Granule cells
  • Mossy fibers
  • Polysensory convergence
  • Synapses

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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