Innervation of the Heart and Its Central Medullary Origin Defined by Viral Tracing

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The vagus nerve exerts a profound influence on the heart, regulating the heart rate and rhythm.An extensive vagal innervation of the cardiac ventricles and the central origin and extent of this innervation was demonstrated by transynaptic transport of pseudorabies virus with a virulent and two attenuated pseudorabies viral strains. The neurons that innervate the ventricles are numerous, and their distribution within the nucleus ambiguus and dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus is similar to that of neurons innervating other cardiac targets, such as the sino-atrial node. These data provide a neuroanatomical correlate to the physiological influence of the vagus nerve on ventricular function.

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