Generation of the respiratory motor pattern is performed in the lower brainstem and involves complex cross-level interactions of cellular, network, and systems-level mechanisms. Because of these complex interactions, the system can operate in different functional states and engage different rhythmogenic mechanisms in each state. We hypothesize that the rhythmogenic mechanism operating in the respiratory network (i.e., network-based, pacemaker-driven or hybrid) is defined by the state of the pre-Botzinger complex, which in turn operates under control of other medullary and pontine circuits. We also suggest that the pons controls the state of the pre-Botzinger complex (and hence the rhythmogenic mechanism) directly and/or through other medullary circuits, such as the Botzinger complex. The overall goal of this multidisciplinary collaborative project is to investigate and understand these complex interactions and the state-dependency of respiratory rhythm generation by using experimental studies combined with computational modeling. The experimental studies will be performed by Dr. Smith (NINDS, NIH) and Dr. Paton (University of Bristol). The applied experimental methods will include (1) reduction of the operating respiratory network by sequential and highly precise transections applied to the pons and medulla and (2) using specific blockers of intrinsic neuronal properties (e.g., persistent sodium and other ionic channels) and network interactions (e.g., inhibitory synaptic transmission) applied to intact and reduced preparations. The computational model of the ponto-medullary respiratory network will be further developed by the group of Dr. Rybak (Drexel University) in close interactive collaboration with Drs. Smith and Paton using data accumulated in their laboratories. In turn, complementary experimental studies in these laboratories will be driven by modeling predictions. The resultant comprehensive computational model will be developed, tested and elaborated to reproduce the experimentally observed state-dependent changes in the firing patterns of respiratory neurons and in the discharge patterns of output motor nerves (phrenic, hypoglossal, central vagal and abdominal) under different experimental conditions. The proposed collaborative study will provide important insights into the complex neural mechanisms for control of breathing Ultimately, the model that will be developed in this project may be used for simulation of multiple respiratory disorders and diseases (e.g., sleep apnea, brainstem/spinal cord injury, CCHS), and for developing and investigations new methods for their treatment.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
Research Project (R01)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-IFCN-B (50))
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Liu, Yuan
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Drexel University
Schools of Engineering
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Shevtsova, Natalia A; Büsselberg, Dietrich; Molkov, Yaroslav I et al. (2014) Effects of glycinergic inhibition failure on respiratory rhythm and pattern generation. Prog Brain Res 209:25-38
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