Select spinal lesions reveal multiple ascending pathways in the rat conveying input from the male genitalia

Academic Article


  • The specific white matter location of all the spinal pathways conveying penile input to the rostral medulla is not known. Our previous studies using rats demonstrated the loss of low but not high threshold penile inputs to medullary reticular formation (MRF) neurons after acute and chronic dorsal column (DC) lesions of the T8 spinal cord and loss of all penile inputs after lesioning the dorsal three-fifths of the cord. In the present study, select T8 lesions were made and terminal electrophysiological recordings were performed 45-60 days later in a limited portion of the nucleus reticularis gigantocellularis (Gi) and Gi pars alpha. Lesions included subtotal dorsal hemisections that spared only the lateral half of the dorsal portion of the lateral funiculus on one side, dorsal and over-dorsal hemisections, and subtotal transections that spared predominantly just the ventromedial white matter. Electrophysiological data for 448 single unit recordings obtained from 32 urethane-anaesthetized rats, when analysed in groups based upon histological lesion reconstructions, revealed (1) ascending bilateral projections in the dorsal, dorsolateral and ventrolateral white matter of the spinal cord conveying information from the male external genitalia to MRF, and (2) ascending bilateral projections in the ventrolateral white matter conveying information from the pelvic visceral organs (bladder, descending colon, urethra) to MRF. Multiple spinal pathways from the penis to the MRF may correspond to different functions, including those processing affective/pleasure/motivational, nociception, and mating-specific (such as for erection and ejaculation) inputs. © 2010 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2010 The Physiological Society.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Hubscher CH; Reed WR; Kaddumi EG; Armstrong JE; Johnson RD
  • Start Page

  • 1073
  • End Page

  • 1083
  • Volume

  • 588
  • Issue

  • 7