Article révisé par les pairs
Résumé : The present study was undertaken to determine in the rat the topography of the neostriatal projections originating from the motor cortex. For that purpose, anterograde tracers (Phaseolus vulgaris leucoagglutinin: PHA-L; wheat germ agglutinin conjugated to horseradish peroxidase: WGA-HRP) were deposited in discrete cortical sites physiologically identified by microstimulation. Five major motor areas were considered in this study: the rostral (RFL) and caudal (CFL) forelimb areas, the hindlimb (HL) area, the vibrissae motor-frontal eye field (V-FEF) region and the jaw, lips and tongue (JLT) area (according to the nomenclature of Neafsey et al.). The results indicate that functionally different regions of the motor cortex project to different sectors of the caudate putamen (CPU). All 3 distinct limb areas RFL, CFL and HL project to the dorsolateral quarter of the CPU, V-FEF area projects to the dorsomedial quarter, whereas the JLT area projects to the ventrolateral quarter. The pattern of terminal labeling is relatively consistent, whatever the cortical area in which the tracer is deposited. This pattern is characterized by the presence of two or more labeled bands which are obliquely oriented along a ventrolateral-dorsomedial axis. Control experiments were also undertaken in which a retrograde tracer (WGA-HRP) was deposited in various neostriatal loci. The results are congruent with the findings of the anterograde study and further indicate that a given neostriatal sector receives projections from cytoarchitectonically different but functionally related regions of the neocortex. The somatotopic features of both motor and somatosensory corticostriatal projections appear to be in register. In addition, the striatal distribution of motor cortical fibers was compared in 6 experimental cases to the compartmental subdivision of the striatum in patches and matrix, following immunohistochemical localization of calbindin 28 kDa. The calbindin-immunoreactivity is extremely weak in the dorsolateral sector but is higher in the central and ventrolateral parts of the CPU. In these deep striatal regions receiving fibers from V-FEF, JLT and, to a lesser extent, from the limb areas, the cortical fibers are mostly directed to the matrix. The band-like organization of the projection from the motor cortex is correlated to the patch-matrix organization. The patches correspond to the bands of low density of terminal fibers and the matrix to the bands of high terminal density. The present results provide an anatomical basis to both electrophysiological and behavioral observations suggesting that functional distinctions can be established between subregions of the striatum.