The medullary projections of afferent bronchopulmonary C fibres in the cat as shown by antidromic mapping

J Physiol. 1991 Apr:435:207-28. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.1991.sp018506.


1. The activity of eighty-seven bronchopulmonary vagal afferent neurones with unmyelinated axons (C fibres) was recorded extracellularly in the nodose ganglia of decerebrate, paralysed and artificially ventilated cats. On the basis of their response latencies following the right atrial injection of capsaicin or phenyldiguanide, the cells were classified as having their receptor endings within the reach of pulmonary (latency less than 3.5 s) or bronchial (latency above 3.5 s) circulation. 2. Pulmonary and bronchial receptor cells differed only slightly in their response characteristics (firing rate, burst duration) and the conduction velocity of their peripheral axons. Bronchial C fibres represented about 70% of the population studied. 3. The medullary distributions of the central branches of six pulmonary and six bronchial C fibres were determined by means of the antidromic mapping technique. The two receptor subtypes did not differ in their central projection patterns. 4. Rostral to the obex, the central branches of the bronchopulmonary C fibres were localized within the medial portions of the nucleus tractus solitarii (NTS) and area postrema, and were most densely distributed along the borders of the parvicellular subnucleus of the NTS. Caudal to the obex, the most dense branching was found in the dorsal portion of the commissural subnucleus. Projections to the contralateral NTS were found, but these were of a much lower density. 5. The central distribution of bronchopulmonary C fibres is compared to the projection patterns of vagal and glossopharyngeal afferents of other modalities that are involved in respiratory and cardiovascular control. This is discussed in relation to the concept of a modality-specific organization of the NTS.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bronchi / innervation
  • Cats / anatomy & histology*
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology
  • Lung / innervation*
  • Medulla Oblongata / anatomy & histology*
  • Medulla Oblongata / physiology
  • Nerve Fibers / ultrastructure*
  • Neurons, Afferent / cytology*
  • Reaction Time / physiology