Norepinephrine (NE) is a potent modulator of breathing that can increase/decrease respiratory activity by α1-/α2-adrenergic receptor (AR) activation, respectively. The retrotrapezoid nucleus (RTN) is known to contribute to central chemoreception, inspiration, and active expiration. Here we investigate the sources of catecholaminergic inputs to the RTN and identify respiratory effects produced by activation of ARs in this region. By injecting the retrograde tracer Fluoro-Gold into the RTN, we identified back-labeled catecholaminergic neurons in the A7 region. In urethane-anesthetized, vagotomized, and artificially ventilated male Wistar rats unilateral injection of NE or moxonidine (α2-AR agonist) blunted diaphragm muscle activity (DiaEMG) frequency and amplitude, without changing abdominal muscle activity. Those inhibitory effects were reduced by preapplication of yohimbine (α2-AR antagonist) into the RTN. Conversely, unilateral RTN injection of phenylephrine (α1-AR agonist) increased DiaEMG amplitude and frequency and facilitated active expiration. This response was blocked by prior RTN injection of prazosin (α1-AR antagonist). Interestingly, RTN injection of propranolol (β-AR antagonist) had no effect on respiratory inhibition elicited by applications of NE into the RTN; however, the combined blockade of α2- and β-ARs (coapplication of propranolol and yohimbine) revealed an α1-AR-dependent excitatory response to NE that resulted in increase in DiaEMG frequency and facilitation of active expiration. However, blockade of α1-, α2-, or β-ARs in the RTN had minimal effect on baseline respiratory activity, on central or peripheral chemoreflexes. These results suggest that NE signaling can modulate RTN chemoreceptor function; however, endogenous NE signaling does not contribute to baseline breathing or the ventilatory response to central or peripheral chemoreceptor activity in urethane-anesthetized rats.
- retrotrapezoid nucleus
- adrenergic receptors
- medulla oblongata
- Copyright © 2016 the American Physiological Society
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