Dynamic Lateralization of Pupil Dilation Evoked by Locus Coeruleus Activation Results from Sympathetic, Not Parasympathetic, Contributions

Liu, Yang; Rodenkirch, Charles August; Moskowitz, Nicole; Schriver, Brian James; Wang, Qi

Pupil size is collectively controlled by the sympathetic dilator and parasympathetic sphincter muscles. Locus coeruleus (LC) activation has been shown to evoke pupil dilation, but how the sympathetic and parasympathetic pathways contribute to this dilation remains unknown. We examined pupil dilation elicited by LC activation in lightly anesthetized rats. Unilateral LC activation evoked bilateral but lateralized pupil dilation; i.e., the ipsilateral dilation was significantly larger than the contralateral dilation. Surgically blocking the ipsilateral, but not contralateral, sympathetic pathway significantly reduced lateralization, suggesting that lateralization is mainly due to sympathetic contribution. Moreover, we found that sympathetic, but not parasympathetic, contribution is correlated with LC activation frequency. Together, our results unveil the frequency-dependent contributions of the sympathetic and parasympathetic pathways to LC activation-evoked pupil dilation and suggest that lateralization in task-evoked pupil dilations may be used as a biomarker for autonomic tone.


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Biomedical Engineering
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March 6, 2018