Modulation of the synaptic drive to respiratory premotor and motor neurons

D. R. McCrimmon*, E. J. Zuperku, F. Hayashi, Z. Dogas, C. F.L. Hinrichsen, E. A. Stuth, M. Tonkovic-Capin, M. Krolo, F. A. Hopp

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


The characteristics of GABAergic inhibitory modulation of respiratory bulbospinal neuronal activity and short-term potentiation (STP) of phrenic motoneuronal activity were studied. Extracellular unit recording and picoejection techniques in anesthetized dogs showed that both the spontaneous rhythmic and reflexly induced discharge patterns of inspiratory (I) and expiratory (E) premotor neurons were proportionately amplified by the localized application of picomole amounts of bicuculline (Bic), a competitive GABA(A) antagonist. Intracellular recording and paired-pulse stimulation techniques in anesthetized rats demonstrated an STP of phrenic motor output that appears to be mediated by NMDA receptors and is associated with facilitation of EPSPs and prolonged depolarization of individual phrenic motoneurons. We speculate that both GABAergic gain modulation of premotor neuronal activity and NMDA-mediated STP of phrenic activity may be neural substrates which are involved with the optimization of respiratory and non- respiratory behaviors, via adaptive and/or differential control of breathing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)161-176
Number of pages16
JournalRespiration Physiology
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Nov 1997


  • Brainstem, bulbospinal neurons
  • Control of breathing, phrenic motoneurons, synaptic modulation
  • Mammals, dog, rat
  • Short-term potentiation, respiratory neurons
  • Transmitter, GABA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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