Parabrachial-lateral pontine neurons link nociception and breathing

Mingchen Jiang, George F. Alheid, Tara Calandriello, Donald R. McCrimmon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


We investigated the role of the parabrachial complex in cutaneous nociceptor-induced respiratory stimulation in chloralose-urethane anesthetized, vagotomized rats. Noxious stimulation (mustard oil, MO) applied topically to a forelimb or hindlimb enhanced the peak amplitude of the integrated phrenic nerve discharge and, with forelimb application, increased phrenic nerve burst frequency. Bilateral inactivation of neural activity in the parabrachial complex with injection of the GABA agonist muscimol (3 nl) markedly attenuated the response to MO application. Injection of the retrograde tracer FluoroGold within the medullary ventral respiratory column labeled neurons in dorsolateral pontine regions known to receive nociceptive inputs (i.e., Kölliker-Fuse, lateral crescent, and superior lateral subnuclei of the parabrachial complex). Extracellular recordings of 65 dorsolateral parabrachial neurons revealed about 15% responded to a noxious cutaneous pinch with either an increase or a decrease in discharge and ∼40% of these exhibited a phasic respiratory-related component to their discharge. In conclusion, parabrachial pontine neurons contribute to cutaneous nociceptor-induced increases in breathing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)215-233
Number of pages19
JournalRespiratory Physiology and Neurobiology
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Nov 15 2004


  • Brainstem
  • Control of breathing
  • Link with nociception
  • Mammals
  • Muscimol
  • Parabrachial complex
  • Pharmacological agents
  • Pons
  • Rat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Physiology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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