Cells with rhythm keep us breathing

日期:2019-03-07 02:04:06 作者:秋元蹲 阅读:

By Philip Cohen THE regular ebb and flow of breathing is driven by a group of nerve cells above the spinal column, say Californian researchers who have pinpointed a breathing “pacemaker” in rats. Disruption to the pacemaker may be behind respiratory abnormalities such as sleep apnoea, where people stop breathing while they are asleep. Jack Feldman of the University of California in Los Angeles and his colleagues had already traced the pacemaker activity to a region of brainstem above the spinal column dubbed the preBötzinger Complex. Destroying the region stopped the rats breathing, and a slice of this brain tissue could maintain the electrical impulses of rhythmic breathing, but the team weren’t sure exactly which neurons were involved. Feldman’s team hunted for their target neurons with fluorescent antibodies that bind to the same receptors on the nerve cells as drugs that alter the pace of breathing. The fluorescent antibodies highlighted one particular part of the preBötzinger Complex. When neurons from this area were put in a dish, they started firing with the same rhythm, but slightly ahead of the breathing impulse measured from the output nerves. This suggests that the cells form a “kernel” that drives the rhythm. “Now we can really focus on this region and do very basic neuroscience,” says Feldman. “It’s great work and an important contribution to the field,” says neurobiologist Jan-Marino Ramirez of the University of Chicago in Illinois. To test his ideas, Feldman wants to use drugs to kill the neurons. “If our model is right,