Functional synaptic connections among respiratory neurons

Respir Physiol. 2000 Sep;122(2-3):237-46. doi: 10.1016/s0034-5687(00)00162-6.


This presentation focuses on the application of methods to determine functional connections between neurons in the respiratory network of adult decerebrate rats. We employ a general network investigation paradigm that first examines the intracellular recordings of a respiratory neuron and then determines which neurons synapse with it to produce the observed membrane potential changes. It is used to pursue the source of respiratory excitation and inhibition from its arrival at phrenic motoneurons to respiratory neurons in the medulla, and then examine some of the interactions among these neurons that shape their patterns of activity. Findings include a demonstration that phrenic motoneuron activity is determined by excitation from medullary inspiratory premotor neurons and inhibition by Bötzinger complex expiratory neurons, and that the latter neurons inhibit both medullary inspiratory premotor neurons and themselves. We conclude that these functional interconnections explain the activity patterns of some respiratory neurons, but the connections between neurons thought to be involved in rhythm generation remain to be demonstrated in adult rats.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Motor Neurons / physiology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Respiratory System / innervation*
  • Synapses / physiology*