Pontine micturition center

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Pontine micturition center
NeuroLex ID Barrington's nucleus
Anatomical terms of neuroanatomy

The Pontine micturition center (PMC, also known as Barrington's nucleus) is a collection of cell bodies located in the rostral pons in the brainstem involved in the supraspinal regulation of micturition. When activated, the PMC relaxes the urethral sphincter allowing for micturition to occur. The PMC coordinates with other brain centers, including the medial frontal cortex, insular cortex, hypothalamus and periaqueductal gray (PAG). The PAG in particular acts as a relay station for ascending bladder information from the spinal cord and incoming signals from higher brain areas.


In humans and mammals, neurons in the PMC send descending excitatory projections to spinal parasympathetic preganglionic neurons innervating the bladder, and inhibitory interneurons regulating Onuf's nucleus. Additionally, the PMC receives ascending input from the level of the lumbosacral spinal cord. During bladder filling, neurons within the PMC are turned off. However, at a critical level of bladder distention the afferent information arising from mechanoreceptors in the bladder wall switches the PMC on and enhances its activity. This activation results in relaxation of the external urethral sphincter and contraction of the bladder due to a simultaneous stimulation of parasympathetic and inhibition of sympathetic activity to the bladder. Additionally, there is inhibition of the male or female external urethral sphincter. This pattern of activity can also be elicited through the conscious desire to void.


  • Fowler CJ, Griffiths D, de Groat WC. (June 9, 2008) "The neural control of micturition." Nature Reviews: Neuroscience (6):453-66
  • Kuipers R, Mouton LJ, Holstege G. (January 1, 2006) "Afferent projections to the pontine micturition center in the cat." The Journal of Comparative Neurology 494(1):36-53
  • Sasaki M. (December 5, 2005) "Role of Barrington's nucleus in micturition". The Journal of Comparative Neurology 5;493(1):21-6