Chemosensitivity of Locus Coeruleus Neurons Decreases with Postnatal Development

Yasmeen Samar, Wright State University


The locus coeruleus (LC) is a chemosensory area partially responsible for ventilation. Control over ventilation relies on inter-network communication via chemical and electrical synapses and chemosensitivity to CO2/pH. As the LC develops, it’s neural control over ventilation changes. This study investigates the chemosensitivity of the locus coeruleus over the course of development in postnatal rats. We hypothesize that 1) the CO2 sensitivity of LC neurons is highest at birth and declines with development 2) LC neurons are intrinsically chemosensitive and this chemosensitivity does not decrease with development and 3) the presence of gap junctions is highest at the beginning of development, whereas towards the end of development chemical synapses are more prominent. Using standard methods of electrophysiology, we conclude both intact and intrinsic chemosensitivity declines with development. We also conclude that chemical synapses drive LC inter-network communication. Through our conclusions, we can contribute to understanding development of ventilatory neural control.