2‐DG uptake patterns related to single vibrissae during exploratory behaviors in the hamster trigeminal system

Mark F. Jacquin, James S. McCasland, Theodore A. Henderson, Robert W. Rhoades, Thomas A. Woolsey

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26 Scopus citations


Stimulation of one or several whiskers activates discrete foci throughout the trigeminal (V) neuraxis. These foci contribute to patterns, corresponding to the patterns of vibrissae, that have been directly related to aggregates of cells and axon terminals in the “barrel” cortex. Here, we combine high‐resolution, 2‐deoxyglucose (2DG) mapping and cytochrome oxidase (CO) staining to determine whether the known pattern of V primary afferent projections is sufficient to deduce the functional activation of their targets during exploratory behavior. Four adult hamsters had all of their large mystacial vibrissae trimmed acutely, except for C3 on the left, and B2 and D4 on the right; in two others, the left C3 and right A1 and E4 whiskers were spared. After fasting overnight, 2DG was injected and the animals behaved freely in the dark for 45 minutes. The brainstem, thalamus, and cortices were sectioned, then processed for both CO staining and 2DG autoradiography. Image‐processing microscopy was used to separate the autoradiographic silver grains from the histochemical staining. CO patches were patterned in a whiskerlike fashion in the full rostrocaudal extent of V nucleus principalis and in caudal portions of spinal V subnuclei interpolaris and caudalis, but absent in subnucleus oralis. 2DG silver grains were densest above those CO patches in the pattern corresponding to the active whiskers. There were no consistent 2DG foci in subnuclei oralis or rostral caudalais. In these same cases, prominent 2DG labeling was restricted to the appropriate barrels in the contralateral cortex. Only one case, however, displayed a clear and appropriate region of heightened 2DG uptake in contralateral ventroposteromedial thalamus (VPM) and the adjacent part of the reticular thalamic nucleus. Patterns of increased glucose utilization with single whisker stimulation are well matched to the CO patterns that mirror distributions of neurons associated with a vibrissa in the V brainstem complex, thalamus, and cortex. Single whiskers are represented by relatively homogeneous longitudinal columns of 2DG labeling in the V brainstem nuclei. The columns are not continuous through the axial extent of the V brainstem complex; rather, they occur separately within principalis, interpolaris, and caudalis. While whisker columns were consistently labeled in interpolaris and caudalis in all animals, the labeling was increasingly variable in principalis, barrel cortex, and VPM, respectively. This suggests that the behaving animal can and does significantly modulate activity in this major, synaptically secure pathway. © 1993 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-58
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 8 1993


  • barrels
  • deoxyglucose
  • hamster
  • somatosensory
  • trigeminal
  • vibrissae


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