The trigeminal motor system participates in the control of respiration as well as suckling and mastication. However, the central mechanism underlying respiratory activity in trigeminal motoneurons is not well-understood. In this study, we aimed to elucidate brainstem circuitry for rhythm generation and signal transmission of trigeminal respiratory activity in in vitro neonatal rat brainstem-spinal cord preparations. We further examined the role of midline-crossing trigeminal interneurons in the bilateral synchronization of respiratory and suckling activity in trigeminal motor nerves. The results of brainstem-sectioning experiments indicated that respiratory rhythms were generated in the medulla and ipsilaterally transmitted to trigeminal motoneurons in the pons. We conclude that the trigeminal motor system, as well as the hypoglossal and phrenic motor system, is regulated by medullary respiratory networks, and that pontine interactions between bilateral trigeminal interneurons are not critical for the generation or synchronization of trigeminal respiratory activity, but are crucial for trigeminal suckling activity. Abbreviations: GABA, gamma aminobutyric acid; NMDA, N-methyl-D-aspartic acid; pBC, pre-Btzinger complex; V, trigeminal; XII, hypoglossal.
- Jaw movement
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