The central projections of five peripheral branches of the trigeminal nerve were investigated by the method of transganglionic transport of horseradish peroxidase (HRP). In separate animals, the corneal, supraorbital, infraorbital, mental, or inferior alveolar branches were transected and soaked in concentrated solutions of HRP. Forty‐eight to 72 hours after surgery, the brainstem, upper cervical spinal cord, and trigeminal ganglia were perfusion‐fixed and processed according to the tetramethylbenzidine technique. The results show that trigeminal primary afferent neurons which innervate the cornea project mainly to the levels of caudal pars interpolaris and caudal pars caudalis. In contrast, trigeminal primary afferent neurons whose peripheral processes course through the supraorbital, infraorbital, or mental nerves project most heavily to the trigeminal main sensory nucleus, pars interpolaris, and the rostrocaudal middle three‐fifths of pars caudalis. Trigeminal primary afferent neurons which give origin to the inferior alveolar nerve project heavily and in approximately equal numbers of all rostrocaudal levels of the trigeminal brainstem nuclear complex (TBNC). A small number of fibers from each of the latter four cell populations project directly to the contralateral C1‐C2 dorsal horn. A small number of fibers from each cell population studied end in the reticular formation immediately adjacent to the spinal nucleus of V. It is concluded that the cornea and facial skin regions of the cat are represented nonuniformly along the rostrocaudal length of the TBNC.
ASJC Scopus subject areas