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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2003 Jan;94(1):391-8. Epub 2002 May 10.

Neurochemical phenotypes of MRF neurons influencing diaphragm and rectus abdominis activity.

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Department of Otolaryngology, University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213, USA.


In prior studies that used transneuronal transport of isogenic recombinants of pseudorabies virus, we established that medial medullary reticular formation (MRF) neurons sent collateralized projections to both diaphragm and abdominal muscle motoneurons. Furthermore, inactivation of MRF neurons in cats and ferrets increased the excitability of diaphragm and abdominal motoneurons, suggesting that MRF neurons controlling respiratory activity are inhibitory. To test this hypothesis, the present study determined the neurochemical phenotypes of MRF premotor respiratory neurons in the ferret by using immunohistochemical procedures. Dual-labeling immunohistochemistry combining pseudorabies virus injections into respiratory muscles with the detection of glutamic acid decarboxylase-like immunoreactive and glutamate-like immunoreactive cells showed that both GABAergic and glutamatergic MRF neurons project to respiratory motoneurons, although the latter are more common. These data suggest that the role of the MRF in respiratory regulation is multifaceted, as this region provides both inhibitory and excitatory influences on motoneuron activity.

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