Dorsal vagal nucleus
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The dorsal vagal nucleus, also known as the vagal nucleus, dorsal nucleus of the vagus nerve or the dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus nerve, is a elongated nucleus within the medulla oblongata that provides parasympathetic motor innervation to the viscera of the thorax and abdomen. It is the largest parasympathetic nucleus in the brainstem.
The dorsal vagal nuclei are paired nuclei located in the medial aspect of the dorsal medulla either side of the midline. They are the most dorsal of the medullary nuclei, forming the vagal trigone in the floor of the fourth ventricle at its most rostral extent. Caudally the nuclei extend into the first cervical spinal segment.
The nucleus houses cell bodies of the preganglionic parasympathetic motor fibers of the vagus nerve, innervating numerous viscera of the thorax and abdomen including the:
- smooth muscle of the bronchi and lungs
- small intestine
- proximal colon
In addition, there are secretomotor fibers for glands of the stomach.