Brain stem convergence of pelvic viscerosomatic inputs via spinal and vagal afferents

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Single medullary reticular formation (MRF) neurons receive ascending spinal inputs from multiple somatic and pelvic visceral territories. MRF neurons were examined for responses to both pelvic (PN) and vagus (abdominal branches: VAG-abd) nerve stimulation, which dually innervate certain pelvic viscera. Recordings in 12 urethane-anesthetized male rats were performed. Of 121 PN-responsive MRF neurons, 50% responded to VAG-abd. Twenty-seven (22%) responded to colonic distention. All 121 neurons responded to noxious stimulation of somatic territories, including many areas outside the perigenital region (including the hindpaws, ears, face). These data demonstrate input originating from different spinal and cranial nerves. The functional significance of this viscerosomatic convergence to MRF is unknown, but could relate to sensory/autonomic integration for coordinating multiple bodily functions, including reproductive and eliminative events.

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