Inhibitory Thoracic Interneurons are not Essential to Generate the Rostro-caudal Gradient of the Thoracic Inspiratory Motor Activity in Neonatal Rat.


Department of Physiology, Showa University School of Medicine, 1-5-8 Hatanodai, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo 142-8555, Japan. Electronic address: [Email]


The inspiratory motor activities are greater in the intercostal muscles positioned at more rostral thoracic segments. This rostro-caudal gradient of the thoracic inspiratory motor activity is thought to be generated by the spinal interneurons. To clarify the involvement of the inhibitory thoracic interneurons in this rostro-caudal gradient, we examined the effects of 10 μM strychnine, an antagonist of glycine and GABAA receptors, applied to the neonatal rat thoracic spinal cord. The respiratory-related interneuron activities were optically recorded from thoracic segments in the isolated neonatal rat brainstem-spinal cord preparations stained with voltage-sensitive dye, and the electrical inspiratory motor activities were obtained from the third and eleventh thoracic ventral roots (T3VR, T11VR). Although strychnine caused seizure-like activities in all of the ventral roots recorded, the inspiratory motor activities continued. The inspiratory optical signals in the rostral thoracic segments (T2-T5) were significantly larger than those in the caudal thoracic segments (T9-T11) regardless of the existence of strychnine. Similarly, the percent ratio of the amplitude of the inspiratory electrical activity in the T3VR under control and strychnine was significantly larger than that in the T11VR regardless of the existence of strychnine. Strychnine significantly increased the inspiratory activity in both the T3VR and T11VR. These results suggest that the glycinergic and GABAergic inhibitory interneurons are not essential to generate the rostro-caudal gradient in the neonatal rat thoracic inspiratory motor outputs, but these interneurons are likely to play a role in the inhibitory control of inspiratory motor output.


inhibitory interneuron,inspiratory motor activity,neonatal rat,rostro-caudal gradient,spinal cord,