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J Physiol. Jun 1976; 258(1): 187–204.
PMCID: PMC1308967

The location of cardiac vagal preganglionic motoneurones in the medulla of the cat.

Abstract

1. Electrophysiological techniques have been used to locate the origin of preganglionic vagal motoneurones supplying the heart of the cat. 2. The right cardiac vagal branches were identified anatomically and their ability to slow the heart was assessed by electrical stimulation. Control experiments revealed that contamination of cardiac branches by bronchomotor and oesophageal efferent fibres was likely to be small. 3. Fifty-seven neurones in the medulla were activated antidromically on stimulating the cardiac branches at up to 5 times the threshold for cardiac slowing. They had axons with conduction velocities between 3 and 15 m/sec, corresponding to B fibres. 4. None of these were located in the region of the dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus, in spite of repeated sampling there, but all were located in the region of the nucleus ambigus. Histological examination of marked neurones (forty-six of the fifty-seven neurones) revealed that they were associated with its principal column, rostral to the obex. 5. Sampling motoneurones of the dorsal motor nucleus revealed that most sent axons down the thoracic vagus below the cardiac branches. Only three of thirty-three could be activated antidromically by high intensity stimulation of the cardiac branches, but on the basis of their thresholds and conduction velocities, it is argued that they were unlikely to be cardio-inhibitory neurones. 6. It is concluded that preganglionic cardio-inhibitory neurones arise not in the dorsal motor nucleus, but in the principal column of the nucleus ambiguus.

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Selected References

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