Injections of calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) into the amygdala evoke fear-related behaviors and antinociceptive effects. In the present study we therefore characterized CGRP-containing amygdaloid afferents by injecting the retrograde tracer FluoroGold (FG) into subnuclei of the amygdala and adjacent divisions of the extended amygdala, namely, the lateral (LA) and central (CE) amygdaloid nuclei, interstitial nucleus of the posterior limb of the anterior commissure (IPAC), and the amygdalostriatal area (AStr). The distribution of retrogradely FG-labeled neurons and colocalization of CGRP-immunoreactivity with FG-labeling were mapped in the posterior paralaminar thalamic complex and parabrachial nuclei. The analysis of the posterior thalamus revealed that about 50% of CGRP-containing neurons projected to the AStr, the projections originating in the medial part of the medial geniculate body, posterior intralaminar nucleus, parvicellular subparafascicular nucleus, and peripeduncular nucleus. However, the percentage of CGRP-containing thalamic neurons projecting to the adjacent LA, medial part of the CE, and ventrocaudal part of the caudatoputamen rapidly dropped to 3-9%. There were no double-labeled cells after injections into the lateral and capsular parts of the CE and the IPAC. Thus, the AStr received the heaviest CGRP-containing projection from the posterior thalamus. CGRP-containing parabrachial neurons projected to the AStr and lateral, capsular, and medial parts of the CE, the projections originating in the external, crescent, and central parts of the lateral parabrachial nucleus and external part of the medial parabrachial nucleus. The results demonstrate a distinct projection pattern of CGRP-containing thalamic and parabrachial neurons to subnuclei of the amygdala and extended amygdala.
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