Pulmonary C-fiber receptor activation abolishes uncoupled facial nerve activity from phrenic bursting during positive end-expired pressure in the rat

Kun Ze Lee, David D. Fuller, I. Jung Lu, Li Chi Ku, Ji Chuu Hwang

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Phasic respiratory bursting in the facial nerve (FN) can be uncoupled from phrenic bursting by application of 9 cmH2O positive end-expired pressure (PEEP). This response reflects excitation of expiratory-inspiratory (EI) and preinspiratory (Pre-I) facial neurons during the Pre-I period and inhibition of EI neurons during inspiration (I). Because activation of pulmonary C-fiber (PCF) receptors can inhibit the discharge of EI and Pre-I neurons, we hypothesized that PCF receptor activation via capsaicin would attenuate or abolish uncoupled FN bursting with an increase from 3 cmH2O (baseline) to 9 cmH2O PEEP. Neurograms were recorded in the FN and phrenic nerve in anesthetized, ventilated, vagally intact adult Wistar rats. Increasing PEEP to 9 cmH2O resulted in a persistent rhythmic discharge in the FN during phrenic quiescence (i.e., uncoupled bursting). Combination of PEEP with intrajugular capsaicin injection severely attenuated or eliminated uncoupled bursting in the FN (P < 0.05). Additional experiments examined the pattern of facial motoneuron (vs. neurogram) bursting during PEEP application and capsaicin treatment. These single-fiber recordings confirmed that Pre-I and EI (but not I) neurons continued to burst during PEEP-induced phrenic apnea. Capsaicin treatment during PEEP substantially inhibited Pre-I and EI neuron discharge. Finally, analyses of FN and motoneuron bursting across the respiratory cycle indicated that the inhibitory effects of capsaicin were more pronounced during the Pre-I period. We conclude that activation of PCF receptors can inhibit FN bursting during PEEP-induced phrenic apnea by inhibiting EI and I facial motoneuron discharge.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-129
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Jan 1



  • Facial motoneurons
  • Pulmonary stretch receptors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)

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