Respiratory rhythm generation: Prebötzinger neuron discharge patterns and persistent sodium current

Donald R. McCrimmon*, Armelle Monnier, Krzysztof Ptak, Greer Zummo, Zhong Zhang, George F. Alheid

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Considerable evidence from several laboratories (c.f., Rekling and Feldman, Ramirez et al.) is consistent with the concept that the pBc contains the kernel of the central rhythm generating network for breathing. The work summarized in this manuscript is also generally consistent with this notion. Of particular note is the observation that pre-I neurons and E-Dec neurons maintain a consistent phase relationship with phrenic nerve activity and maintain a similar peak discharge rate despite marked changes in the phrenic nerve rhythm and pattern. Other categories of respiratory neurons failed to maintain this relationship. Hence, the findings are consistent with pBc pre-I and E-Dec neurons having a key role in rhythm generation. A persistent sodium current has been postulated to underlie the rhythm generating mechanism of pacemaker neurons within the pBc. In the present study, a substantial persistent sodium current was documented in many neurons from the pBc and adjacent respiratory regions. This finding is not inconsistent with the postulated role in rhythm generation. However, it does suggest that other neuronal properties must act in concert with the persistent current to define a unique population of pacemaker neurons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)147-152
Number of pages6
JournalAdvances in experimental medicine and biology
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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