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Respir Physiol Neurobiol. 2011 Jul 31;177(2):133-40. doi: 10.1016/j.resp.2011.03.020. Epub 2011 Mar 29.

Altered ventilatory and thermoregulatory control in male and female adult Pet-1 null mice.

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Departments of Neurology and Cellular & Molecular Physiology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06520, United States.


The integrity of the serotonin (5-HT) system is essential to normal respiratory and thermoregulatory control. Male and female transgenic mice lacking central 5-HT neurons (Lmx1b(f/f/p) mice) show a 50% reduction in the hypercapnic ventilatory response and insufficient heat generation when cooled (Hodges and Richerson, 2008a; Hodges et al., 2008b). Lmx1b(f/f/p) mice also show reduced body temperatures (T(body)) and O(2) consumption [Formula: see text] , and breathe less at rest and during hypoxia and hypercapnia when measured below thermoneutrality (24 °C), suggesting a role for 5-HT neurons in integrating ventilatory, thermal and metabolic control. Here, the hypothesis that Pet-1 null mice, which retain 30% of central 5-HT neurons, will demonstrate similar deficits in temperature and ventilatory control was tested. Pet-1 null mice had fewer medullary tryptophan hydroxylase-immunoreactive (TPH(+)) neurons compared to wild type (WT) mice, particularly in the midline raphé. Female (but not male) Pet-1 null mice had lower baseline ventilation (V(E)), breathing frequency (f), [Formula: see text] and T(body) relative to female WT mice (P < 0.05). In addition, V(E) and [Formula: see text] were decreased in male and female Pet-1 null mice during hypoxia and hypercapnia (P < 0.05), but only male Pet-1 null mice showed a significant deficit in the hypercapnic ventilatory response when expressed as % of control (P < 0.05). Finally, male and female Pet-1 null mice showed significant decreases in T(body) when externally cooled to 4 °C. These data demonstrate that a moderate loss of 5-HT neurons leads to a modest attenuation of mechanisms defending body temperature, and that there are gender differences in the contributions of 5-HT neurons to ventilatory and thermoregulatory control.

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