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Respir Physiol. 2001 Dec;129(1-2):13-23.

Cytoarchitecture of central chemoreceptors in the mammalian ventral medulla.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Keio University Tsukigase Rehabilitation Center, Tagata-gun Tsukigase 380-2, Amagiyugashima-cho, Shizuoka-ken 410-3293, Japan.


We reviewed the previous reports on the fine anatomy of the mammalian ventral medulla with special attention to the cytoarchitecture of the superficial chemosensitive regions to summarize what is known, what is not yet known, and what should be studied in the future. We also reviewed studies on anatomical relationship between neurons and vessels, and morphological studies on dendrites of respiratory or chemosensitive neurons. When we compared the morphological reports on the ventral and dorsal putative chemosensitive regions, similarities were found as follows. Chemosensitive cells were often found not only near the ventral surface but near the dorsal surface of the brainstem. Dendritic projection towards the surface was a common characteristic in the ventral and dorsal chemosensitive neurons. Morphological abnormality in the brainstem of sudden infant death syndrome victims was also summarized. On the basis of the previous reports we discussed the perspective on the future study on central chemoreception. Among various unanswered questions in central chemosensitivity studies, physiological significance of surface cells and surface extending dendrites is the most important topic, and must be thoroughly investigated.

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