PreBötzinger complex and pacemaker neurons: hypothesized site and kernel for respiratory rhythm generation

Annu Rev Physiol. 1998:60:385-405. doi: 10.1146/annurev.physiol.60.1.385.


Identification of the sites and mechanisms underlying the generation of respiratory rhythm is of longstanding interest to physiologists and neurobiologists. Recently, with the development of novel experimental preparations, especially in vitro en bloc and slice preparations of rodent brainstem, progress has been made In particular, a site in the ventrolateral medulla, the preBötzinger Complex, is hypothesized to contain neuronal circuits generating respiratory rhythm. Lesions or disruption of synaptic transmission within the preBötzinger Complex, either in vivo or in vitro, can abolish respiratory activity. Furthermore, the persistence of respiratory rhythm following interference with postsynaptic inhibition and the subsequent discovery of neurons with endogenous bursting properties within the preBötzinger Complex have led to the hypothesis that rhythmogenesis results from synchronized activity of pacemaker or group-pacemaker neurons.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Clocks / physiology*
  • Brain Stem / cytology
  • Brain Stem / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Respiratory Mechanics / physiology*