Respiratory neuronal activity during apnea and other breathing patterns induced by laryngeal stimulation

E. E. Lawson, D. W. Richter, M. F. Czyzyk-Krzeska, A. Bischoff, R. C. Rudesill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Respiration cycles through three distinct phases (inspiration, postinspiration, and expiration) each having corresponding medullary cells that are excited during one phase and inhibited during the other two. Laryngeal stimulation is known to induce apnea in newborn animals, but the cellular mechanisms underlying this effect are not known. Intracellular recording of ventral respiratory group neurons was accomplished in intact anesthetized, paralyzed, and mechanically ventilated piglets. Apnea was induced by insufflation of the larynx with ammonia-saturated air, smoke, or water. Laryngeal insufflation induced phrenic nerve apnea, stimulation of postinspiratory neurons, and stable membrane potentials in inspiratory and expiratory cells consistent with postinspiratory inhibition. Usually the membrane potential of each neuronal type cycled through an expiratory level before onset of the first recovery breath. Variants of the apnea response, probably reflecting the aspiration reflex or sniffing, sneezing, coughing, and swallowing, were also observed. These latter patterns showed oscillation between inspiration and postinspiration without an apparent intervening stage II expiratory phase. However, stage II expiratory activity always preceded onset of the first ramp inspiration after such a pattern. These findings suggest that activation of postinspiratory mechanisms causes profound alterations in the respiratory pattern and that stage II expiration importantly modulates recovery of ramp inspiratory activity. The mechanism of this latter effect may be inhibition of early inspiratory neurons with consequent postinhibitory rebound.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2742-2749
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of applied physiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1991
Externally publishedYes


  • larynx
  • newborn
  • nucleus ambiguus
  • respiratory control
  • respiratory neurons
  • swine
  • ventrolateral medulla oblongata

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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