Multiple pathways to long-lasting phrenic motor facilitation

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2010;669:225-30. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4419-5692-7_45.


Plasticity is a hallmark of neural systems, including the neural system controlling breathing (Mitchell and Johnson 2003). Despite its biological and potential clinical significance, our understanding of mechanisms giving rise to any form of respiratory plasticity remains incomplete. Here we discuss recent advances in our understanding of cellular mechanisms giving rise to phrenic long-term facilitation (pLTF), a long-lasting increase in phrenic motor output induced by acute intermittent hypoxia (AIH). Recently, we have come to realize that multiple, distinct mechanisms are capable of giving rise to long-lasting phrenic motor facilitation (PMF); we use PMF as a general term that includes AIH-induced pLTF. It is important to begin an appreciation and understanding of these diverse pathways. Hence, we introduce a nomenclature based on upstream steps in the signaling cascade leading to PMF. Two pathways are featured here: the "Q" and the "S" pathways, named because they are induced by metabotropic receptors coupled to Gq and Gs proteins, respectively. These pathways appear to interact in complex and interesting ways, thus providing a range of potential responses in the face of changing physiological conditions or the onset of disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Hypoxia / metabolism
  • Hypoxia / physiopathology
  • Long-Term Potentiation / physiology*
  • Models, Biological
  • Motor Neurons / cytology*
  • Motor Neurons / metabolism
  • Phrenic Nerve / cytology*
  • Phrenic Nerve / metabolism
  • Phrenic Nerve / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction*