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Brain Res. 1982 Oct 14;249(2):223-35.

Role of ventrolateral medulla in vasomotor regulation: a correlative anatomical and physiological study.


Two groups of experiments were carried out in rabbits. First, the ventrolateral reticular formation of the medulla oblongata was stimulated either by microinjection of sodium glutamate solution (exciting only cell bodies) or electrically (exciting cell bodies and axons). This region has been shown previously to contain a dense and compact group of bulbospinal cells. The effects of both electrical and chemical stimulation of specific sites were correlated with the density of ventrolateral bulbospinal cells at the same sites. Glutamate microinjection into the center of the group of bulbospinal cells elicited a very large and sustained increase in arterial pressure, whereas microinjection into sites outside this region elicited a very small or no response. These results suggest that it is the bulbospinal ventrolateral cells which mediate the pressor response to glutamate stimulation. Focal electrical stimulation in the ventrolateral medulla elicited increases in arterial pressure and decreases in femoral and renal vascular conductance, as well as a short-latency increase in renal sympathetic nerve activity. The most effective sites for focal electrical stimulation lay within the region of greatest density of bulbospinal cells; slightly less effective sites lay just rostral and caudal to this region. It is suggested that stimulation in these latter sites predominantly excites axons of passage. Secondly, the origin of afferent fibers to the ventrolateral vasomotor area was studied using the horseradish peroxidase (HRP) method. This revealed major projections from the medial part of the nucleus tractus solitarius and the parabrachial nucleus in the pons. The physiological and anatomical studies taken together are consistent with the hypothesis that the bulbospinal ventrolateral cells are vasomotor in function, and receive afferent inputs from brain stem nuclei which are known to play a role in autonomic regulation.

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