Optical imaging of medullary ventral respiratory network during eupnea and gasping In situ


  • Jeffrey T. Potts,

    1. Department of Biomedical Science, College of Veterinary Medicine, Dalton Cardiovascular Research Center, University of Missouri, 134 Research Park Dr, Columbia, MO 65211
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Julian F. R. Paton

    1. Department of Physiology, Bristol Heart Institute, School of Medical Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
    Search for more papers by this author

Dr Jeffrey T. Potts, as above.
E-mail: pottsjt@missouri.edu


In severe hypoxia, respiratory rhythm is shifted from an eupneic, ramp-like motor pattern to gasping characterized by a decrementing pattern of phrenic motor activity. However, it is not known whether hypoxia reconfigures the spatiotemporal organization of the central respiratory rhythm generator. Using the in situ arterially perfused juvenile rat preparation, we investigated whether the shift from eupnea to gasping was associated with a reconfiguration of the spatiotemporal pattern of respiratory neuronal activity in the ventral medullary respiratory network. Optical images of medullary respiratory network activity were obtained from male rats (4–6 weeks of age). Part of the medullary network was stained with a voltage-sensitive dye (di-2 ANEPEQ) centred both within, and adjacent to, the pre-Bötzinger complex (Pre-BötC). During eupnea, optical signals initially increased prior to the onset of phrenic activity and progressively intensified during the inspiratory phase peaking at the end of inspiration. During early expiration, fluorescence was also detected and slowly declined throughout this phase. In contrast, hypoxia shifted the respiratory motor pattern from eupnea to gasping and optical signals were restricted to inspiration only. Areas active during gasping showed fluorescence that was more intensive and covered a larger region of the rostral ventrolateral medulla compared to eupnea. Regions exhibiting peak inspiratory fluorescence did not coincide spatially during eupnea and gasping. Moreover, there was a recruitment of additional medullary regions during gasping that were not active during eupnea. These results provide novel evidence that the shift in respiratory motor pattern from eupnea to gasping appears to be associated with a reconfiguration of the central respiratory rhythm generator characterized by changes in its spatiotemporal organization.