Indexed on: 13 Oct '16Published on: 12 Oct '16Published in: Respiratory Physiology & Neurobiology
We tested the hypothesis that mu-opioid receptors (MORs) in the caudomedial nucleus tractus solitarius (cmNTS) are important for the ventilatory responses to stimulation of bronchopulmonary C-fibers (PCFs), the carotid body-mediated hypoxia, and hypercapnia independent of the carotid body. First, we used immunohistochemistry to map MORs distribution in the caudal medulla. Then we compared the effects of intra-cmNTS microinjection of DAMGO (a MOR agonist) with or without a combination of CTAP (a MOR antagonist) on the ventilatory responses to: 1) right atrial injection of capsaicin (to stimulation of PCFs) and 2) acute hypoxia (HVR, to stimulate the carotid body) in awake intact rats; and 3) hypercapnia (HCVR) in the carotid body ablated rats. The cmNTS presented the highest MORs in the caudal medulla. Microinjection of DAMGO blocked the PCF-mediated apnea, attenuated HVR (70%) and HCVR (21%), while microinjection of CTAP + DAMGO failed to affect these chemoreflexes. Our data demonstrate a critical role of activation of cmNTS MORs in regulating these chemoreflexes and imply a presence of MORs in the synapse of the 2nd-order neurons receiving inputs from PCFs and the carotid body, and NTS chemosensitive neurons.