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The pupillary and ciliary components of the cat Edinger-Westphal nucleus: A transsynaptic transport investigation

  • JONATHAN T. ERICHSEN (a1) and PAUL J. MAY (a2)

Abstract

The distribution of preganglionic motoneurons supplying the ciliary ganglion in the cat was defined both qualitatively and quantitatively. These cells were retrogradely labeled directly, following injections of wheat germ agglutinin conjugated to horseradish peroxidase (WGA-HRP) into the ciliary ganglion, or were transsynaptically labeled following injections of WGA into the vitreous chamber. Almost half of the cells are distributed rostral to the oculomotor nucleus, both in and lateral to the anteromedian nucleus. Of the remaining preganglionic motoneurons, roughly 20% of the total are located dorsal to the oculomotor nucleus. Strikingly few of these neurons are actually found within the Edinger-Westphal nucleus proper. Instead, the majority are found in the adjacent supraoculomotor area or along the midline between the two somatic nuclei. An additional population, roughly 30% of the total, is located ventral to the oculomotor nucleus. This study also provides evidence for a functional subdivision of this preganglionic population. Pupil-related preganglionic motoneurons were transsynaptically labeled by injecting WGA into the anterior chamber, while lens-related preganglionic motoneurons were transsynaptically labeled by injecting WGA into the ciliary muscle. The results suggest that the pupil-related preganglionic motoneurons, that is, those controlling the iris sphincter pupillae muscle, are located rostrally, in and lateral to the anteromedian nucleus. In contrast, lens-related preganglionic motoneurons, that is, those controlling the ciliary muscle are particularly prevalent caudally, both dorsal and ventral to the oculomotor nucleus. Thus, the cat intraocular muscle preganglionic innervation is spatially organized with respect to function, despite the dispersed nature of its distribution.

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Corresponding author

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Paul J. May, Department of Anatomy, University of Mississippi Medical Center, 2500 North State Street, Jackson, MS 39216-4505, USA. E-mail: pjm@anat.umsmed.edu

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