Plasticity is an important feature of neural systems, including the neural system controlling breathing. Despite its potential biological and clinical significance, our understanding of mechanisms giving rise to any form of respiratory plasticity is incomplete. In this revised application for competitive renewal, investigations will be continued concerning cellular mechanisms giving rise to phrenic long-term facilitation, an important model of respiratory plasticity induced by acute exposure to intermittent hypoxia. In a rat model mechanisms of long- term facilitation will be investigated using multiple experimental approaches, including nerve recordings in anesthetized rats, measurements of ventilation in unanesthetized rats, application of RNA interference, a novel method of regulating potentially important genes that play a role in respiratory plasticity, protein analysis and fluorescent methods in fixed tissues to determine expression changes in important molecules, such as reactive oxygen species. Using these approaches, five hypotheses will be tested in this application for competitive renewal. First, in Aim 1, the hypothesis that the proteins NADPH oxidase and protein phosphatase 2A function as key regulators of long term facilitation will be explored. Next, the possibility that distinct cellular mechanisms give rise to long-lasting facilitation of phrenic nerve activity, of which phrenic long term facilitation is only one, will be tested.
In Aim 2, two of these mechanisms will be investigated, designated the "Q" and "S" pathways to phrenic motor facilitation. In the final three aims, the hypotheses will be tested that the Q and S pathways normally suppress one another (Aim 3), but that animals have the capacity to shift between the Q and S pathways phrenic motor facilitation (Aim 4), or that they can engage both pathways at the same time (Aim 5). Such flexibility in achieving facilitation of respiratory nerve activity may impart flexibility as an individual responds to physiological challenges throughout life, such as the onset of disease. A detailed understanding of cellular mechanisms giving rise to phrenic motor facilitation will guide the development of novel therapeutic strategies for severe ventilatory control disorders, including obstructive sleep apnea and respiratory insufficiency in patients with spinal injury or motor neuron disease (ALS). Thus, an important underlying goal of our research is to identify molecules regulating PMF as potential therapeutic targets.

Public Health Relevance

Some ventilatory control disorders such as sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) or respiratory insufficiency in patients with cervical spinal injury or neurodegenerative diseases like ALS are catastrophic. Others, such as obstructive sleep apnea, have profound consequences for public health. Our goal is to develop novel therapeutic strategies for ventilatory control disorders based on a detailed understanding of respiratory plasticity, a critical aspect of the ventilatory control system that has become appreciated only in recent years.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Respiratory Integrative Biology and Translational Research Study Section (RIBT)
Program Officer
Laposky, Aaron D
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of Wisconsin Madison
Schools of Veterinary Medicine
United States
Zip Code
Nichols, Nicole L; Vinit, St├ęphane; Bauernschmidt, Lorene et al. (2015) Respiratory function after selective respiratory motor neuron death from intrapleural CTB-saporin injections. Exp Neurol 267:18-29
MacFarlane, P M; Vinit, S; Mitchell, G S (2014) Spinal nNOS regulates phrenic motor facilitation by a 5-HT2B receptor- and NADPH oxidase-dependent mechanism. Neuroscience 269:67-78
Navarrete-Opazo, Angela; Mitchell, Gordon S (2014) Therapeutic potential of intermittent hypoxia: a matter of dose. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol 307:R1181-97
Dale, E A; Ben Mabrouk, F; Mitchell, G S (2014) Unexpected benefits of intermittent hypoxia: enhanced respiratory and nonrespiratory motor function. Physiology (Bethesda) 29:39-48
Huxtable, A G; MacFarlane, P M; Vinit, S et al. (2014) Adrenergic ?? receptor activation is sufficient, but not necessary for phrenic long-term facilitation. J Appl Physiol (1985) 116:1345-52
Johnson, Rebecca A; Mitchell, Gordon S (2013) Common mechanisms of compensatory respiratory plasticity in spinal neurological disorders. Respir Physiol Neurobiol 189:419-28
Nichols, Nicole L; Van Dyke, J; Nashold, L et al. (2013) Ventilatory control in ALS. Respir Physiol Neurobiol 189:429-37
Huxtable, A G; Smith, S M C; Vinit, S et al. (2013) Systemic LPS induces spinal inflammatory gene expression and impairs phrenic long-term facilitation following acute intermittent hypoxia. J Appl Physiol (1985) 114:879-87
Hoffman, M S; Mitchell, G S (2013) Spinal 5-HT7 receptors and protein kinase A constrain intermittent hypoxia-induced phrenic long-term facilitation. Neuroscience 250:632-43
Dale, Erica A; Mitchell, Gordon S (2013) Spinal vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and erythropoietin (EPO) induced phrenic motor facilitation after repetitive acute intermittent hypoxia. Respir Physiol Neurobiol 185:481-8

Showing the most recent 10 out of 41 publications