Ampakines stimulate phrenic motor output after cervical spinal cord injury

L. B. Wollman, K. A. Streeter, A. F. Fusco, E. J. Gonzalez-Rothi, M. S. Sandhu, J. J. Greer, D. D. Fuller*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Activation of α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA) receptors increases phrenic motor output. Ampakines are a class of drugs that are positive allosteric modulators of AMPA receptors. We hypothesized that 1) ampakines can stimulate phrenic activity after incomplete cervical spinal cord injury (SCI), and 2) pairing ampakines with brief hypoxia could enable sustained facilitation of phrenic bursting. Phrenic activity was recorded ipsilateral (IL) and contralateral (CL) to C2 spinal cord hemisection (C2Hx) in anesthetized adult rats. Two weeks after C2Hx, ampakine CX717 (15 mg/kg, i.v.) increased IL (61 ± 46% baseline, BL) and CL burst amplitude (47 ± 26%BL) in 8 of 8 rats. After 90 min, IL and CL bursting remained above baseline (BL) in 7 of 8 rats. Pairing ampakine with a single bout of acute hypoxia (5-min, arterial partial pressure of O2 ~ 50 mmHg) had a variable impact on phrenic bursting, with some rats showing a large facilitation that exceeded the response of the ampakine alone group. At 8 weeks post-C2Hx, 7 of 8 rats increased IL (115 ± 117%BL) and CL burst amplitude (45 ± 27%BL) after ampakine. The IL burst amplitude remained above BL for 90-min in 7 of 8 rats; CL bursting remained elevated in 6 of 8 rats. The sustained impact of ampakine at 8 weeks was not enhanced by hypoxia exposure. Intravenous vehicle (10% 2-Hydroxypropyl-β-cyclodextrin) did not increase phrenic bursting at either time point. We conclude that ampakines effectively stimulate neural drive to the diaphragm after cervical SCI. Pairing ampakines with a single hypoxic exposure did not consistently enhance phrenic motor facilitation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number113465
JournalExperimental Neurology
StatePublished - Dec 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Ampakine
  • Hypoxia
  • Neuroplasticity
  • Phrenic
  • Respiratory
  • Spinal cord injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Developmental Neuroscience


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