A medullary dorsal horn relay for the cardiorespiratory responses evoked by stimulation of the nasal mucosa in the muskrat Ondatra zibethicus: evidence for excitatory amino acid transmission

Brain Res. 1995 Sep 11;691(1-2):37-45. doi: 10.1016/0006-8993(95)00597-j.


Stimulation of the upper respiratory tract, including the nasal mucosa, with water, vaporous irritants, or gases, induces a collation of several cardiorespiratory responses including an apnea and bradycardia and often some change in arterial blood pressure. Since the nasal mucosa is innervated by branches of the trigeminal nerve, it implies that some part of the trigeminal system within the central nervous system mediates the autonomic responses induced by nasal stimulation. In the present study, respirations, heart rate and arterial pressure were monitored in muskrats anesthetized with a mixture of chloralose-urethane. We induced a bradycardia and apnea by stimulating the nasal mucosa of muskrats with brief (5 s) transnasal application of vapors of ammonia hydroxide. In an effort to determine the central site where the trigeminal mediation of the cardiorespiratory responses occurs, small nanoliter injections of 2% lidocaine were made bilaterally into the subnucleus caudalis of the spinal trigeminal nucleus (referred to as the medullary dorsal horn) to determine if the responses could be blocked. The responses could be blocked when the lidocaine injections on both sides were placed in the rostral, ventral parts of the medullary dorsal horn, but persisted when the injections were placed elsewhere. Since lidocaine blocks both neurons and fibers of passage, nanoliter injections of kynurenate, a general excitatory amino acid antagonist, were used in a similar paradigm to circumvent the problem of blocking only fibers of passage.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arvicolinae / physiology*
  • Cardiovascular System / drug effects*
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Glutamic Acid / physiology
  • Kynurenic Acid / pharmacology
  • Nasal Mucosa / drug effects*
  • Respiratory System / drug effects*
  • Stimulation, Chemical
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology*
  • Trigeminal Nucleus, Spinal / physiology*


  • Excitatory Amino Acid Antagonists
  • Glutamic Acid
  • Kynurenic Acid