The chemical neuroanatomy of breathing

George F. Alheid*, Donald R. McCrimmon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

154 Scopus citations


The chemical neuroanatomy of breathing must ultimately encompass all the various neuronal elements physiologically identified in brainstem respiratory circuits and their apparent aggregation into "compartments" within the medulla and pons. These functionally defined respiratory compartments in the brainstem provide the major source of input to cranial motoneurons controlling the airways, and to spinal motoneurons activating inspiratory and expiratory pump muscles. This review provides an overview of the neuroanatomy of the major compartments comprising brainstem respiratory circuits, and a synopsis of the transmitters used by their constituent respiratory neurons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-11
Number of pages9
JournalRespiratory Physiology and Neurobiology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Dec 10 2008


  • Bötzinger
  • Kölliker-Fuse nucleus
  • Parabrachial nucleus
  • Parafacial respiratory group
  • PreBötzinger
  • Retrotrapezoid nucleus
  • Ventral respiratory column
  • Ventral respiratory group

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • General Neuroscience
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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