Role of the cerebellar deep nuclei in respiratory modulation

Cerebellum. Jan-Mar 2002;1(1):35-40. doi: 10.1080/147342202753203078.


The cerebellum contains three deep nuclei, i.e., the fastigial, interposed and lateral nucleus. Recent studies demonstrate that these nuclei play different roles in respiratory modulation. Activation of fastigial nuclear neurons predominantly increases ventilation via elevation of respiratory frequency and/or tidal volume. Ablation of the fastigial nucleus did not significantly alter eupneic breathing, but did markedly attenuate the respiratory response to medium and severe hypercapnia as well as hypoxia. The fastigial nucleus contains respiratory-modulated neurons and about 25% of these neurons do not show their respiratory-related phasic activity until exposed to hypercapnia. The fastigial nucleus also contains CO2/H+ chemosensitive sites that contributed to the respiratory response to hypercapnia. Therefore, it is concluded that fastigial nuclear facilitatory influence on chemoreflexes emerges during hypercapnia via recruiting intrinsic chemoreception and respiratory-modulated neurons. Full expression of the fastigial nucleus-mediated respiratory responses depends on the integrity of the medullary gigantocellular nucleus at least partially via monosynaptic projections. Additionally, the fastigial nucleus receives inhibitory inputs primarily from Purkinje cells located in the medial vermis and recent observations indicate that simulation of these Purkinje cells inhibits respiration. As compared to chemoreflexes, fastigial nuclear role in the respiratory mechanoreflexes is not significant. The studies related to the role of the interposed and lateral nucleus in eupneic breathing are limited and the results appear controversial. However, there is evidence to show that the interposed nucleus contains respiratory-modulated neurons and is involved in coughing motor control.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cerebellar Nuclei / cytology
  • Cerebellar Nuclei / physiology*
  • Chemoreceptor Cells / physiology
  • Humans
  • Medulla Oblongata / physiology*
  • Neural Inhibition / physiology
  • Neural Pathways / cytology
  • Neural Pathways / physiology*
  • Purkinje Cells / physiology
  • Respiratory Center / cytology
  • Respiratory Center / physiology*
  • Respiratory Physiological Phenomena*