Ionotropic glutamate receptors mediate excitatory drive to caudal medullary expiratory neurons in the rabbit.Brain Res. 2005 Sep 21; 1056(2):145-57.BR
Most of the neurons of the caudal ventral respiratory group (cVRG) are bulbospinal expiratory neurons that receive their main excitatory drive from more rostral, but not yet defined regions. This study was devoted to investigate the functional role of ionotropic excitatory amino acid (EAA) receptors in the excitatory drive transmission to cVRG expiratory neurons during eupnoeic breathing and some respiratory reflexes including cough induced by mechanical stimulation of the tracheobronchial tree. The experiments were performed on spontaneously breathing rabbits under pentobarbitone anesthesia making use of microinjections (30--50 nl) of EAA receptor antagonists into the cVRG. Phrenic nerve and abdominal muscle activities were recorded. Bilateral microinjections of 50 mM kynurenic acid (KYN), a broad-spectrum EAA antagonist, and 10 mM 6-cyano-7-nitroquinoxaline-2,3-dione (CNQX), a non-NMDA antagonist, or 5 mM 6-nitro-7-sulphamoylbenzo(f)quinoxaline-2,3-dione (NBQX), a more specific non-NMDA antagonist, completely suppressed spontaneous rhythmic abdominal activity and reflex expiratory responses either to tracheal occlusion at end-inspiration (Breuer-Hering inflation reflex) or to expiratory threshold loading (5 cm H(2)O); they also suppressed both the inspiratory and expiratory components of the cough reflex. Spontaneous rhythmic abdominal activity and the reflex respiratory responses were strongly reduced, but not completely abolished by microinjections of 10 mM d(-)-2-amino-5-phosphonopentanoic acid (D-AP5), an NMDA antagonist. The results provide evidence that the excitatory drive to cVRG bulbospinal expiratory neurons during eupnoeic breathing and the investigated respiratory reflexes is mediated by EAA receptors. They also support the view that neurons located in the cVRG are not merely elements of the expiratory output system.