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Somatostatin immunoreactivity is a diagnostic marker of the pre-Boetzinger complex

Guyenet PG, Stornetta RL, Rosin DL, Wang H, Sevigny CP, Weston MC (2002) Somatostatin immunoreactivity is a diagnostic marker of the pre-Boetzinger complex. Neuroscience 2002 Abstracts 362.4. Society for Neuroscience, Orlando, FL.

Summary: Selective ablation of the neurokinin-1 receptor-ir (NK1R-ir) neurons of the ventral respiratory group (VRG) causes major respiratory deficits. Since this population of NK1R-ir neurons is heterogeneous, additional markers are needed to identify which subgroup is most critical to respiratory rhythmogenesis. In the present study, the pre-Boetzinger complex (pre-BoetC) was defined as a 500 μ-long segment of the ventral respiratory group (VRG) located rostral to the spinally projecting inspiratory premotor neurons. This region of the ventral medulla was the only one that contained somatostatin-immunoreactive (SST-ir) neuronal somata. These cells were small (108 μ²), generally fusiform and they expressed very high levels of preprosomatostatin (PPSST) mRNA. All SST-ir neurons were strongly NK1R-ir and were destroyed by saporin conjugated with an NK1R agonist. Most SST-ir neurons (>90%) contained vesicular glutamate transporter 2 (VGLUT2) mRNA whereas <1% contained GAD-67 mRNA and few (6%) contained preproenkephalin mRNA. The results of retrograde labeling experiments with Fluoro-Gold demonstrated that SST-ir neurons do not project to the spinal cord but that over 75% project to the contralateral pre-BoetC. In conclusion, somatic SST immunoreactivity can be used as a diagnostic marker of the pre-BoetC. The SST-ir cells of the pre-BoetC are small glutamatergic interneurons with contralateral projections and they express high levels of NK1 receptors. The homogeneous features of this group of interneurons and their exclusive location in the pre-BoetC suggest that they could be the NK1R-ir neurons whose destruction disrupts respiratory rhythm. (HL 28785 & 60003).

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