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Brain Res. 1994 Feb 14;636(2):259-69.

Pontine respiratory neurons in anesthetized cats.

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II. Department of Physiology, University of G├Âtingen, Germany.


The pontine respiratory neurons (PRG) in the 'pneumotaxic centre' have been hypothesized to contribute to phase-switching of neural respiratory activity, especially in terminating inspiration. To define the neural elements involved in phase-switching, we recorded respiratory neurons extra- and intracellularly in anesthetized cats with an intact central nervous system. In total, 54 neurons were recorded: 49 neurons with activity modulated by central respiratory rhythm (20 inspiratory, 17 postinspiratory and 12 expiratory) and 5 neurons with activity correlated to tracheal pressure. The recorded neurons were clustered in dorsolateral pontine tegmentum within the K├Âlliker-Fuse (KF) subnucleus of the parabrachial nuclei. Stable intracellular membrane potential was recorded in 11 of the 49 respiratory neurons (8 postinspiratory, 1 early inspiratory and 2 inspiratory). During continuous injection of chloride ions (n = 6), synaptic noise increased and IPSPs reversed, including a wave of IPSPs during stage-2 expiration in postinspiratory neurons. Further, relative input resistance varied through the respiratory cycle such that the least input resistance occurred during the neuron's (n = 5) quiescent period. No IPSPs nor EPSPs were evoked in pontine respiratory neurons by vagal stimulation. In conclusion, various types of respiratory neurons were recorded in the KF nucleus. Prominent excitatory and inhibitory postsynaptic activities were similar to those described for medullary neurons. These pontine respiratory neurons do not appear to receive a strong afferent input from the vagus. Rather, vagal afferent inputs seem to be directed towards non-respiratory neurons that are located more medially in the dorsal pons.

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