Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 90, Issue 1, pp 153–162 | Cite as

Role of upper cervical inspiratory neurons studied by cross-correlation in the cat

  • M. A. Douse
  • J. Duffin
  • D. Brooks
  • L. Fedorko


Axonal projections and synaptic connectivity of upper cervical inspiratory neurons (UCINs) were investigated in anaesthetised cats to clarify their role as propriospinal respiratory interneurons. Antidromic mapping showed axonal collaterals near phrenic and intercostal motonuclei. Of the UCINs tested, 37% had collaterals at T3-4; 55% had ipsilateral projections and 45% had contralateral projections. Ipsilateral or contralateral cross-correlations of the activity of pairs of UCINs (one on each side of the spinal cord) with the discharge of internal intercostal, external intercostal (T3-4) or phrenic nerves revealed similar features. Those with the internal intercostal and phrenic nerves were interpreted as evidence for shared or oligosynaptic excitation, those with the external intercostal nerve as shared excitation and inhibition. No evidence for monosynaptic connections was found. Monosynaptic connections could also not be demonstrated between inspiratory intercostal neurons located near (< 0.5 mm) the UCINs collateral arborizations in T3-4, examined by cross-correlation. Afferent feedback from internal intercostal nerves (T3-4) was investigated by cross-correlating nerve stimulation with UCINs activity. Ipsilateral and contralateral cross-correlograms had similar features, providing evidence for excitation in some cases and inhibition in others. Finally, cross-correlations between ipsilateral UCINs and cervical sympathetic nerves were featureless. The results suggest that the role of UCINs as part of a respiratory propriospinal control system analagous to forelimb motor control is untenable, although they may be part of an intercostal afferent feedback loop.

Key words

Respiration Neurons Axonal projections Spinal cord Cat 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. A. Douse
    • 1
  • J. Duffin
    • 1
  • D. Brooks
    • 1
  • L. Fedorko
    • 2
  1. 1.Departments of Physiology and AnaesthesiaUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Mt. Sinai Hospital Research InstituteTorontoCanada

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