Pre-Botzinger complex: a brainstem region that may generate respiratory rhythm in mammals

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Science  01 Nov 1991:
Vol. 254, Issue 5032, pp. 726-729
DOI: 10.1126/science.1683005


The location of neurons generating the rhythm of breathing in mammals is unknown. By microsection of the neonatal rat brainstem in vitro, a limited region of the ventral medulla (the pre-Botzinger Complex) that contains neurons essential for rhythmogenesis was identified. Rhythm generation was eliminated by removal of only this region. Medullary slices containing the pre-Botzinger Complex generated respiratory-related oscillations similar to those generated by the whole brainstem in vitro, and neurons with voltage-dependent pacemaker-like properties were identified in this region. Thus, the respiratory rhythm in the mammalian neonatal nervous system may result from a population of conditional bursting pacemaker neurons in the pre-Botzinger Complex.

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