Respiratory modulation of the activity in postganglionic neurons supplying skeletal muscle and skin of the rat hindlimb.


Dr. Ove A. Peters: 0000-0001-5222-8718



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Journal of Neurophysiology







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1. The respiratory modulation of activity in postganglionic neurons of the lumbar sympathetic outflow to skeletal muscle and hairy skin of the hindlimb was studied in anesthetized rats, either breathing spontaneously or paralyzed and artificially ventilated, using single- and multifiber recordings. The activity of the neurons was analyzed with respect to the phrenic nerve discharges or with respect to the cycle of artificial ventilation under various experimental conditions. 2. In total, 19 single and 62 multiunit preparations supplying skeletal muscle and 42 single and 95 multiunit preparations supplying skin were analyzed. Qualitatively, both populations and single- and multiunit preparations exhibited similar patterns. The majority (187/218 preparations) exhibited a depression of activity during inspiration and a peak of activity during expiration that was mostly accentuated during early expiration. The remainder exhibited a peak of activity at the transition between expiration and inspiration (n = 15) or showed no respiratory modulation (n = 16). 3. Respiratory modulation in the postganglionic neurons was similar in animals breathing spontaneously and in those that were paralyzed and artificially ventilated. 4. Systemic hypercapnia and asphyxia in most cases enhanced both the peak of activity during early expiration and the depression of activity during inspiration. 5. No peripheral (reflex) component mediated by arterial baroreceptors was found in vagotomized animals that was related to the cycle of artificial ventilation using a tidal volume of 1-2 ml and a ventilation frequency of 70 +/- 7 (SD) strokes, min-1. However, a small ventilation-related rhythm of arterial baroreceptor activity recorded from the aortic nerve was found under these conditions. 6. Respiratory modulation of postganglionic activity was similar before and after bilateral vagotomy. 7. It is concluded that respiratory modulation of sympathetic activity in rats is less differentiated than in cats. The observed differences between neurons supplying different targets are only quantitative. Possible mechanisms involved in the generation of respiratory modulation are discussed.

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