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Reprod Fertil Dev. 1996;8(1):79-86.

Respiratory responses to preoptic/anterior hypothalamic warming during sleep in kittens.

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Department of Neurobiology, University of California, Los Angeles, USA.


The preoptic/anterior hypothalamic (POAH) area of 12-48-day-old unanaesthetized, unrestrained kittens was warmed with a diathermic probe to assess respiratory responses to a central thermal challenge during sleep. During quiet sleep (QS), warming of the POAH by 1.4-3.8 degrees C induced periods of tachypnoea (panting) interspersed with periods of slower respiration; the percentage of time spent in panting increased as the kittens matured. During rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, POAH warming induced a much smaller increase in respiratory rate and no sustained panting. Analysis of the dynamics of panting (in QS only, since panting did not occur in REM) revealed several changes from breathing patterns of normal respiration. During panting, the increased respiratory rate did not result from equal changes in inspiratory and expiratory times; inspiratory times accounted for a larger portion of the decline in total respiratory cycle time. Amplitude of diaphragmatic electromyographic activity showed an age-dependent response to thermal panting, which resulted in age-dependent changes in ventilation and inspiratory drive. The interspersion of slower with faster respiratory rates suggests a competition of thermoregulatory and respiratory homeostatic mechanisms. The age-dependent ventilatory responses to thermal panting suggest greater vulnerability to thermal stress at particular ages, and may have implications for the sudden infant death syndrome.

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