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Association of spinothalamic lamina I neurons and their ascending axons with calbindin-immunoreactivity in monkey and human

Craig, A. D.a,∗; Zhang, E. T.a; Blomqvist, A.b

doi: 10.1016/S0304-3959(02)00009-X
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The calbindin-immunoreactivity of spinothalamic (STT) lamina I neurons and their ascending axons was examined in two experiments. In the first experiment, lamina I STT neurons in macaque monkeys were double-labeled for calbindin and for retrogradely transported WGA∗HRP following large (n=2) or small (n=1) injections that included the posterior thalamus. Most, but not all (78%) of the contralateral retrogradely labeled lamina I STT cells were positive for calbindin. Calbindin-immunoreactivity was not selectively associated with any particular anatomical type of lamina I STT cell; 82% of the fusiform cells, 78% of the pyramidal cells and 67% of the multipolar cells were double-labeled. In the second experiment, oblique transverse sections from upper cervical spinal segments of three macaque monkeys, one squirrel monkey and five humans were stained for calbindin-immunoreactivity. In each case, a distinct bundle of fibers was densely stained in the middle of the lateral funiculus. This matches the location of anterogradely labeled ascending lamina I axons observed in prior work in cats and monkeys, and it matches the location of the classically described ‘lateral spinothalamic tract’ in humans. This bundle had variable shape across cases, an observation that might have clinical significance. These findings support the view that lamina I STT neurons are involved in spinal cordotomies that reduce pain, temperature and itch sensations.

aDivision of Neurosurgery, Barrow Neurological Institute, 350 W. Thomas Road, Phoenix, AZ 85013, USA

bDepartment of Cell Biology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Linköping, S-581 85 Linköping, Sweden

Corresponding author. Tel.: +1-602-406-3385; fax: +1-602-406-4121

E-mail: bcraig@chw.edu

Submitted November 4, 2000; revised November 28, 2000; accepted December 21, 2001.

© 2002 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.
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