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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2004 Nov;97(5):1620-8. Epub 2004 Jul 9.

Small reduction of neurokinin-1 receptor-expressing neurons in the pre-Bötzinger complex area induces abnormal breathing periods in awake goats.

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Department of Physiology and Pediatrics, Medical College of Wisconsin, Zablocki Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Milwaukee, WI 53226, USA.


In awake rats, >80% bilateral reduction of neurokinin-1 receptor (NK1R)-expressing neurons in the pre-Bötzinger complex (pre-BötzC) resulted in hypoventilation and an "ataxic" breathing pattern (Gray PA, Rekling JC, Bocchiaro CM, Feldman JL, Science 286: 1566-1568, 1999). Accordingly, the present study was designed to gain further insight into the role of the pre-BötzC area NK1R-expressing neurons in the control of breathing during physiological conditions. Microtubules were chronically implanted bilaterally into the medulla of adult goats. After recovery from surgery, the neurotoxin saporin conjugated to substance P, specific for NK1R-expressing neurons, was bilaterally injected (50 pM in 10 microl) into the pre-BötzC area during the awake state (n = 8). In unoperated goats, 34 +/- 0.01% of the pre-BötzC area neurons are immunoreactive for the NK1R, but, in goats after bilateral injection of SP-SAP into the pre-BötzC area, NK1R immunoreactivity was reduced to 22.5 +/- 2.5% (29% decrease, P < 0.01). Ten to fourteen days after the injection, the frequency of abnormal breathing periods was sixfold greater than before injection (107.8 +/- 21.8/h, P < 0.001). Fifty-six percent of these periods were breaths of varying duration and volume with an altered respiratory muscle activation pattern, whereas the remaining were rapid, complete breaths with coordinated inspiratory-expiratory cycles. The rate of occurrence and characteristics of abnormal breathing periods were not altered during a CO2 inhalation-induced hyperpnea. Pathological breathing patterns were eliminated during non-rapid eye movement sleep in seven of eight goats, but they frequently occurred on arousal from non-rapid eye movement sleep. We conclude that a moderate reduction in pre-BötzC NK1R-expressing neurons results in state-dependent transient changes in respiratory rhythm and/or eupneic respiratory muscle activation patterns.

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