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Brain Res. 1991 Jun 14;551(1-2):256-66.

Are the post-inspiratory neurons in the decerebrate rat cranial motoneurons or interneurons?

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Département de Physiologie et Neurophysiologie, URA CNRS 205, Faculté des Sciences et Techniques Saint Jérôme, Marseille, France.


We examined the membrane potentials of 63 respiratory neurons in the ventrolateral medulla of decerebrate rats, whose trajectories had the characteristics of the post-inspiratory neurons, i.e. exhibiting hyperpolarization during inspiration, rapid depolarization at end-inspiration and progressive repolarization with a decrementing pattern during the intervals between phrenic bursts. Synaptic responses of 6 post-inspiratory neurons which were tested by stimulation of cervical vagus or superior laryngeal nerves were excitatory. Eleven of these 63 post-inspiratory neurons were labeled by intracellular injection of horseradish peroxidase (HRP). Ten of these 11 labeled neurons were motoneurons since their axons exited the medulla after joining the roots of cranial nerves. However, only one of these motoneurons was antidromically activated by stimulation of the ipsilateral cervical vagus nerve. We assumed that most of the post-inspiratory medullary neurons of the present study were motoneurons, but not interneurons, although antidromic invasion was not possible after stimulation of the cervical vagus and superior laryngeal nerves. Two post-inspiratory neurons of this sample had bulbospinal axons, which were revealed by antidromical activation of spinal cord and HRP labeling, respectively. The axon of the labeled bulbospinal neuron had axonal collaterals which were distributed within the region of the nucleus ambiguous of the ipsilateral medulla. The functional significance of this type of post-inspiratory neuron is discussed.

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