Locomotor-activated neurons of the cat. II. noradrenergic innervation and colocalization with NEα1a or NEα2b receptors in the thoraco-lumbar spinal cord

Brian R. Noga, Dawn M.G. Johnson, Mirta I. Riesgo, Alberto Pinzon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Norepinephrine (NE) is a strong modulator and/or activator of spinal locomotor networks. Thus noradrenergic fibers likely contact neurons involved in generating locomotion. The aim of the present study was to investigate the noradrenergic innervation of functionally related, locomotor-activated neurons within the thoraco-lumbar spinal cord. This was accomplished by immunohistochemical colocalization of noradrenergic fibers using dopamine-β-hydroxylase or NE α1A and NE α2B receptors with cells expressing the cfos gene activity-dependent marker Fos. Experiments were performed on paralyzed, precollicular-postmamillary decerebrate cats, in which locomotion was induced by electrical stimulation of the mesencephalic locomotor region. The majority of Fos labeled neurons, especially abundant in laminae VII and VIII throughout the thoracolumbar (T13-L7) region of locomotor animals, showed close contacts with multiple noradrenergic boutons. A small percentage (10-40%) of Fos neurons in the T7-L7 segments showed colocalization with NE α1A receptors. In contrast, NEα2B receptor immunoreactivity was observed in 70-90% of Fos cells, with no obvious rostrocaudal gradient. In comparison with results obtained from our previous study on the same animals, a significantly smaller proportion of Fos labeled neurons were innervated by noradrenergic than serotonergic fibers, with significant differences observed for laminae VII and VIII in some segments. In lamina VII of the lumbar segments, the degree of monoaminergic receptor subtype/Fos colo-calization examined statistically generally fell into the following order: NEα2B 5-HT2A 5-HT7 5-HT1A NEα1A. These results suggest that noradrenergic modulation of locomotion involves NEα1A/NEα2B receptors on noradrenergic-innervated locomotor-ac-tivated neurons within laminae VII and VIII of thoracolumbar segments. Further study of the functional role of these receptors in locomotion is warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1835-1849
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of neurophysiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2011


  • Activity-dependent labeling
  • Ceruleospinal
  • Immunocytochemistry
  • Mesencephalic locomotor region

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Neuroscience(all)


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