Long-term reorganization of respiratory pathways after partial cervical spinal cord injury

Authors

  • Stéphane Vinit,

    1. Université Paul Cézanne Aix-Marseille III, Laboratoire de Physiologie Neurovégétative UMR-CNRS 6231, Avenue Escadrille Normandie Niemen, F-13397 Marseille Cedex 20, France
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  • Fannie Darlot,

    1. Université Paul Cézanne Aix-Marseille III, Laboratoire de Physiologie Neurovégétative UMR-CNRS 6231, Avenue Escadrille Normandie Niemen, F-13397 Marseille Cedex 20, France
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  • Jean-Claude Stamegna,

    1. Université Paul Cézanne Aix-Marseille III, Laboratoire de Physiologie Neurovégétative UMR-CNRS 6231, Avenue Escadrille Normandie Niemen, F-13397 Marseille Cedex 20, France
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  • Patrick Sanchez,

    1. Université Paul Cézanne Aix-Marseille III, Laboratoire de Physiologie Neurovégétative UMR-CNRS 6231, Avenue Escadrille Normandie Niemen, F-13397 Marseille Cedex 20, France
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  • Patrick Gauthier,

    1. Université Paul Cézanne Aix-Marseille III, Laboratoire de Physiologie Neurovégétative UMR-CNRS 6231, Avenue Escadrille Normandie Niemen, F-13397 Marseille Cedex 20, France
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  • Anne Kastner

    1. Université Paul Cézanne Aix-Marseille III, Laboratoire de Physiologie Neurovégétative UMR-CNRS 6231, Avenue Escadrille Normandie Niemen, F-13397 Marseille Cedex 20, France
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Dr S. Vinit, Department of Comparative Biosciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, 2015 Linden Drive, Madison, WI 53706–1102, USA.
E-mail: vinit@wisc.edu

Abstract

High cervical spinal cord injury (SCI) interrupts bulbospinal respiratory pathways innervating phrenic motoneurons, and induces an inactivation of phrenic nerves (PN) and diaphragm. We have previously shown that the ipsilateral (ipsi) PN was inactivated following a lateral C2 SCI, but was spontaneously partially reactivated 7 days post-SCI. This phrenic reactivation depended on contralateral (contra) descending pathways, located laterally, that cross the spinal midline. We analysed here whether long-term post-lesional changes may occur in the respiratory network. We showed that ipsi PN reactivation was greater at 3 months compared with 7 days post-SCI, and that it was enhanced after acute contra phrenicotomy (Phx), which also induced a substantial reactivation of the ipsi diaphragm (not detected at 7 days post-SCI). At 3 months post-SCI (compared with 7 days post-SCI), ipsi PN activity was only moderately affected by ipsi Phx or by gallamine treatment, a nicotinic neuromuscular blocking agent, indicating that it was less dependent on ipsi sensory phrenic afferents. After an additional acute contra SCI (C1) performed laterally, ipsi PN activity was abolished in rats 7 days post-SCI, but persisted in rats 3 months post-SCI. This activity thus depended on new functional descending pathways located medially rather than laterally. These may not involve newly recruited neurons as retrograde labelling showed that ipsi phrenic motoneurons were innervated by a similar number of medullary respiratory neurons after a short and long post-lesional time. These results show that after a long post-lesional time, phrenic reactivation is reinforced by an anatomo-functional reorganization of spinal respiratory pathways.

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