• 1
    Blockade of NMDA receptors by dizocilpine impairs the inspiratory off-switch (IOS) of central origin but not the IOS evoked by stimulation of sensory afferents. To investigate whether this difference was due to the effects of different patterns of synaptic interactions on respiratory neurones, we stimulated electrically the superior laryngeal nerve (SLN) or vagus nerve in decerebrate cats before and after i.v. administration of dizocilpine, whilst recording intracellularly.
  • 2
    Phrenic nerve responses to ipsilateral SLN or vagal stimulation were: at mid-inspiration, a transient inhibition often followed by a brief burst of activity; at late inspiration, an IOS; and at mid-expiration, a late burst of activity.
  • 3
    In all neurones (n= 16), SLN stimulation at mid-inspiration evoked an early EPSP during phase 1 (latency to the arrest of phrenic nerve activity), followed by an IPSP in inspiratory (I) neurones (n= 8) and by a wave of EPSPs in post-inspiratory (PI) neurones (n= 8) during phase 2 (inhibition of phrenic activity). An EPSP in I neurones and an IPSP in PI neurones occurred during phase 3 (brief phrenic burst) following phase 2.
  • 4
    Evoked IOS was associated with a fast (phase 1) activation of PI neurones, whereas during spontaneous IOS, a progressive (30-50 ms) depolarization of PI neurones preceded the arrest of phrenic activity.
  • 5
    Phase 3 PSPs were similar to those occurring during the burst of activity seen at the start of spontaneous inspiration.
  • 6
    Dizocilpine did not suppress the evoked phrenic inhibition and the late burst of activity. The shapes and timing of the evoked PSPs and the changes in membrane potential in I and PI neurones during the phase transition were not altered.
  • 7
    We hypothesize that afferent sensory pathways not requiring NMDA receptors (1) terminate inspiration through a premature activation of PI neurones, and (2) evoke a late burst of phrenic activity which might be the first stage of the inspiratory on-switch.