Immunohistochemical evidence for the interaction between levator ani and pudendal motor neurons in the coordination of pelvic floor and visceral activity in the squirrel monkey

Lisa M. Pierce, Michelle Reyes, Karl B. Thor, Paul C. Dolber, Ronald E. Bremer, Thomas J. Kuehl, Kimberly W. Coates

13 Scopus citations


Objective: The purpose of this study was to characterize the spinal distribution of afferent and efferent pathways that innervate the levator ani (LA) muscle in the female squirrel monkey. Study design: Cholera toxin B (CTB) was injected unilaterally into the LA muscle of 5 monkeys to identify primary sensory neurons in the dorsal root ganglia (DRG) and motor neurons in the spinal cord that contribute fibers to the LA nerve. Fluoro-Gold (FG) was injected into the external anal sphincter of 2 of these animals to label pudendal motor neurons (1 of these animals underwent unilateral LA neurectomy before CTB injection). Spinal cord and DRG were processed for immunofluorescence 3 to 7 days after injections. Results: Retrograde transport of CTB from the LA muscle labeled primary afferent neurons in the ipsilateral DRG, their central projections, and motor neurons in the medial portion of the ipsilateral ventral horn of the spinal cord (L7-S2 segments). Injection of FG into the external anal sphincter labeled cells in Onuf's nucleus, primarily in L7. Importantly, CTB-labeled LA motor neurons were virtually absent in Onuf's nucleus, where all pudendal motor neurons are located. CTB-labeled processes were observed within Onuf's nucleus, adjacent to FG-labeled pudendal motor neurons, and appeared to derive from dendrites of LA motor neurons that project into Onuf's nucleus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1506-1515
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Issue number5 SPEC. ISS.
StatePublished - May 2005
Externally publishedYes



  • Innervation
  • Levator ani
  • Onuf's nucleus
  • Pelvic floor dysfunction
  • Pudendal nerve
  • Squirrel monkey

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Medicine(all)

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