Selective projections from the cat red nucleus to digit motor neurons

M. L. McCurdy*, D. I. Hansma, J. C. Houk, A. R. Gibson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Classical studies of the cat rubrospinal tract describe dense terminations in spinal laminae V–VII and an absence of any significant projection to lamina IX. In contrast, our recent studies, utilizing the anterograde transport of wheat germ agglutinin conjugated with horseradish peroxidase, have demonstrated a consistent and circumscribed area of label in lamina IX at caudal cervical segments. The present study was undertaken to determine the distribution of rubrospinal terminals among motor neurons in lamina IX as well as to identify the likely target muscles of those motor neurons located near rubrospinal terminals. We injected wheat germ agglutinin‐horseradish peroxidase into the red nucleus and unconjugated horseradish peroxidase into selected forearm muscles of the same side of the body. The locations of rubrospinal terminals showing anterograde label on one side of the spinal cord could then be compared with the locations motor neurons showing retrograde label on the opposite side of the cord. The results demonstrated a clear focus of rubrospinal terminals in the lateral and dorsal portions of the ventral horn beginning at C8 and extending through rostral T1. No other segments of the spinal cord showed a focus of rubrospinal terminations in lamina IX. Retrogradely labeled motor neurons from the muscle injections showed that the rubrospinal terminals overlap extensively with motor neuronal pools supplying distal forearm muscles. Several lines of evidence indicate that the terminals are from rubrospinal fibers and are not due to transneuronal transport.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)367-379
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 15 1987
Externally publishedYes


  • corticospinal
  • rubrospinal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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