Cholera Toxin Mapping of Retinal Projections in Pigeons (Columba Livia), with Emphasis on Retinohypothalamic Connections

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Suprachiasmatic nucleus, Neurophysin, Retinal input, Cholera toxin, Birds

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Anterograde transport of cholera toxin subunit B (CTb) was used to study the retinal projections in birds, with an emphasis on retinohypothalamic connections. Pigeons (Columba livia) were deeply anesthetized and received unilateral intraocular injections of CTb. In addition to known contralateral retinorecipient regions, CTb-immunoreactive fibers and presumptive terminals were found in several ipsilateral regions, such as the nucleus of the basal optic root, ventral lateral geniculate nucleus, intergeniculate leaflet, nucleus lateralis anterior, area pretectalis, and nucleus pretectalis diffusus. In the hypothalamus, CTb-immunoreactive fibers were observed in at least two contralateral cell groups, a medial hypothalamic retinorecipient nucleus, and a lateral hypothalamic retinorecipient nucleus. To compare retinorecipient hypothalamic nuclei in pigeons with the mammalian suprachiasmatic nucleus, double-label experiments were conducted to study the existence of neurophysin-like immunoreactivity in the retinorecipient avian hypothalamus. The results showed that only cell bodies in the medial hypothalamic nucleus contained neurophysin-like immunoreactivity. The results demonstrate CTb to be a sensitive anterograde tracer and provide further anatomical information on the avian equivalent of the mammalian suprachiasmatic nucleus.

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Visual Neuroscience, v. 11, issue 3, p. 441-446