Brainstem projections to the major respiratory neuron populations in the medulla of the cat

Authors

  • Dr. Jeffrey C. Smith,

    Corresponding author
    1. Systems Neurobiology Laboratory, Department of Kinesiology, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California 90024-1568
    2. Department of Physiology, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois, 60611
    Current affiliation:
    1. Department of Kinesiology, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90024-1568
    • Systems Neurobiology Laboratory, Department of Kinesiology, University of California, Los Angeles, 405 Hilgard Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90024-1568
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  • Debra E. Morrison,

    1. Department of Physiology, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois, 60611
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  • Howard H. Ellenberger,

    1. Systems Neurobiology Laboratory, Department of Kinesiology, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California 90024-1568
    2. Department of Physiology, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois, 60611
    Current affiliation:
    1. Department of Kinesiology, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90024-1568
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  • Marianne R. Otto,

    1. Systems Neurobiology Laboratory, Department of Kinesiology, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California 90024-1568
    2. Department of Physiology, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois, 60611
    Current affiliation:
    1. Department of Kinesiology, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90024-1568
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  • Jack L. Feldman

    1. Systems Neurobiology Laboratory, Department of Kinesiology, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California 90024-1568
    2. Department of Physiology, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois, 60611
    Current affiliation:
    1. Department of Kinesiology, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90024-1568
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Abstract

Efferent and afferent connections of the dorsal and ventral respiratory groups in the medulla of the cat were mapped by axonal transport of wheat germ agglutinin conjugated to horseradish peroxidase. Injections of wheat germ agglutinin-horseradish peroxidase into the dorsal respiratory group and the three principal subdivisions of the ventral respiratory group (caudal, rostral, and Bötzinger Complex) revealed extensive interconnections between these regions and with a limited number of other brainstem neuron populations. Major neuron populations with efferent projections to the regions of the dorsal and ventral respiratory groups include the parabrachial nuclear complex (medial parabrachial, lateral parabrachial, and Kölliker-Fuse nuclei), subregions of the lateral paragigantocellular reticular nucleus, subregions of the lateral and magnocellular tegmental fields, inferior central and postpyramidal nuclei of the raphe, and sensory trigeminal nuclei. A previously unidentified neuron population with extensive efferent projections to the dorsal and ventral respiratory groups was found near the ventral surface of the rostral medulla; we refer to this group as the retrotrapezoid nucleus. The results suggest that the dorsal and ventral respiratory groups form an extensively interconnected neuronal system receiving convergent inputs from the same brainstem nuclear groups, consistent with the hypothesis that the dorsal and ventral groups are primarily sites for integration of sensory and premotor respiratory drive inputs. Neuron populations in the rostral ventrolateral medulla with projections to both the dorsal and ventral respiratory groups, particularly the retrotrapezoid nucleus and neighboring subregions of the lateral paragigantocellular reticular nucleus, are candidate sites for participation in respiratory rhythmogenesis or other critical functions of the brainstem respiratory control system such as intracranial chemoreception.

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