Projections from inspiratory neurons of the ventral respiratory group to the subretroficial nucleus of the cat
Arterial blood pressure and the activity of many sympathetic nerves are known to be affected by changes in central respiratory activity. The central neurons responsible for this respiratory modulation are unknown. In the present study we have labelled inspiratory neurons (n = 24) in the rostral ventral respiratory group and Bo¨tzinger complex in the medulla oblongata of the cat using intracellular injection of biocytin. The filled neurons were examined to see if they had axonal projections to the subretrofacial nucleus, an important brainstem nucleus in the tonic and reflex control of blood pressure. The subretrofacial nucleus was identified histologically as a cluster of neurons in the rostral ventrolateral medulla, some of which are tyrosine hydroxylase immunoreactive. Varicose axons arising from labelled inspiratory neurons were mostly found dorsal to this cluster, within the area corresponding to the Bo¨tzinger complex. A small number of axon varicosities were seen in the subretrofacial nucleus. The results suggest that a part of the respiratory modulation of sympathetic nerve activity may be due to a direct synaptic input from inspiratory neurons of the ventral respiratory group to neurons of the subretrofacial nucleus.