Mohammadshirazi et al., 2023

2023 - 02/02/2023 Cell Mol Neurobiol

Suprapontine Structures Modulate Brainstem and Spinal Networks.

Atiyeh Mohammadshirazi, Rosamaria Apicella, Benjamín A. Zylberberg, Graciela L. Mazzone and Giuliano Taccola


Several spinal motor output and essential rhythmic behaviors are controlled by supraspinal structures, although their contribution to neuronal networks for respiration and locomotion at birth still requires better characterization. As preparations of isolated brainstem and spinal networks only focus on local circuitry, we introduced the in vitro central nervous system (CNS) from neonatal rodents to simultaneously record a stable respiratory rhythm from both cervical and lumbar ventral roots (VRs).

Electrical pulses supplied to multiple sites of brainstem evoked distinct VR responses with staggered onset in the rostro-caudal direction. Stimulation of ventrolateral medulla (VLM) resulted in higher events from homolateral VRs. Stimulating a lumbar dorsal root (DR) elicited responses even from cervical VRs, albeit small and delayed, confirming functional ascending pathways. Oximetric assessments detected optimal oxygen levels on brainstem and cortical surfaces, and histological analysis of internal brain structures indicated preserved neuron viability without astrogliosis. Serial ablations showed precollicular decerebration reducing respiratory burst duration and frequency and diminishing the area of lumbar DR and VR potentials elicited by DR stimulation, while pontobulbar transection increased the frequency and duration of respiratory bursts. Keeping legs attached allows for expressing a respiratory rhythm during hindlimb stimulation. Trains of pulses evoked episodes of fictive locomotion (FL) when delivered to VLM or to a DR, the latter with a slightly better FL than in isolated cords.

In summary, suprapontine centers regulate spontaneous respiratory rhythms, as well as electrically evoked reflexes and spinal network activity. The current approach contributes to clarifying modulatory brain influences on the brainstem and spinal microcircuits during development.

Graphical Abstract

Novel preparation of the entire isolated CNS from newborn rats unveils suprapontine modulation on brainstem and spinal networks. Preparation views (A) with and without legs attached (B). Successful fictive respiration occurs with fast dissection from P0-P2 rats (C). Decerebration speeds up respiratory rhythm (D) and reduces spinal reflexes derived from both ventral and dorsal lumbar roots (E).



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