Chemosensitive (CS) neurons are found in discrete brainstem regions, but whether the CS response of these neurons is due to intrinsic chemosensitivity of individual neurons or is mediated by changes in chemical and/or electrical synaptic input is largely unknown. We studied the effect of synaptic blockade (11.4 mM Mg2+/0.2 mM Ca2+) solution (SNB) and a gap junction uncoupling agent carbenoxolone (CAR—100 μM) on the response of neurons from two CS brainstem regions, the NTS and the LC. In NTS neurons, SNB decreased spontaneous firing rate (FR). We calculated the magnitude of the FR response to hypercapnic acidosis (HA; 15% CO2) using the Chemosensitivity Index (CI). The percentage of NTS neurons activated and CI were the same in the absence and presence of SNB. Blocking gap junctions with CAR did not significantly alter spontaneous FR. CAR did not alter the CI in NTS neurons and resulted in a small decrease in the percentage of activated neurons, which was most evident in NTS neurons from rats younger than postnatal day 10. In LC neurons, SNB resulted in an increase in spontaneous FR. As with NTS neurons, SNB did not alter the percentage of activated neurons or the CI in LC neurons. CAR resulted in a small increase in spontaneous FR in LC neurons.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/lynn_hartzler/39/