Chronic Hypoxia Decreases Response to Central Chemoreceptor Stimulation in the Nucleus Tractus Solitarius (NTS)

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One hallmark of acclimatization to chronic hypoxia (CH) is hyperventilation and a lower arterial carbon dioxide (CO2) level. These effects persist upon return to normoxia, suggesting a change in the regulation of CO2 during CH. We tested the hypothesis that plasticity in one central chemoreceptor site, the NTS, contributes to altered CO2 regulation in CH. In urethane-anesthetized rats, we stimulated chemoreceptors in the NTS by a unilateral microinjection of acetazolamide (ACZ, 1 nl of 0.3 µM), to produce focal acidosis. The product of rectified, integrated phrenic nerve amplitude and frequency (Phr) was measured 30 min after ACZ in normoxic control (N; n=5) and CH rats (n=5). ACZ increased Phr significantly more in N rats than CH rats (N=263±14%; CH=83±18%; p<0.001). ACZ in adjacent brainstem regions had no effect on Phr. All rats showed the capacity to increase Phr to a 10% inspired CO2 challenge following ACZ, suggesting that the dose of ACZ did not produce a maximal phrenic response. These results indicate plasticity in chemosensitivity in the NTS but they cannot easily explain the lower CO2 set point with CH.


Presented at the 2009 Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) Science Research Conference.

Presentation Number 621.16.

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