Spinal interneurons infected by renal injection of pseudorabies virus in the rat

Xiaorui Tang, Nathan D. Neckel, Lawrence P. Schramm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


The potency of spinal sympathetic reflexes is increased after spinal injury, and these reflexes may result in life-threatening hypertensive crises in humans. Few, if any, primary afferents project directly to sympathetic preganglionic neurons (SPN). Therefore, spinal sympathetic interneurons (IN) must play a major role in generating dysfunctional sympathetic activity after spinal cord injury. Furthermore, these IN are potentially aberrant targets, either for ascending and descending axons that may sprout after spinal cord injury or for axons that regenerate after spinal cord injury. We identified IN via the transsynaptic retrograde transport of pseudorabies virus (PRV) injected into the kidneys of rats. The proportion of infected IN ranged from approximately 1/3 to approximately 2/3 of the number of infected SPN. IN were heavily concentrated among the SPN in spinal lamina VII. However, IN were located in all lamina of the dorsal horn. The longitudinal distribution of infected IN was closely correlated with the longitudinal distribution of infected SPN. Few infected IN were found rostral or caudal to the longitudinal range of infected SPN. Infected IN were heterogeneous in both their sizes and the extent of their dendritic trees. The strong correlation between longitudinal distributions of infected IN and SPN supports physiological data demonstrating a segmental organization of spinal sympathetic reflexes. The paucity of infected IN in segments distant from SPN suggests that multisegmental sympathetic reflexes are mediated by projections onto IN rather than onto SPN themselves. The morphological heterogeneity of IN probably manifests the variety of systems that affect spinal sympathetic regulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalBrain research
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Apr 9 2004


  • Cardiovascular regulation
  • Central cardiovascular regulation
  • Endocrine and autonomic regulation
  • Pseudorabies virus
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Spinal sympathetic interneuron
  • Sympathetic preganglionic neuron

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology


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