Impaired chemosensory control of breathing after depletion of bulbospinal catecholaminergic neurons in rats
Phenylethanolamine-N-methyltransferase (PNMT)-containing neurons in the rostral ventrolateral medulla (RVLM) are believed to play a role in cardiovascular regulation. To determine whether injection of anti-dopamine beta-hydroxylase (DbetaH)-saporin directly into the RVLM in rats could selectively destroy these cells and thereby provide an approach for evaluating their role in cardiovascular regulation, we studied rats 2 wk after unilateral injection of 21 ng anti-DbetaH-saporin into the RVLM. There was an approximately 90% reduction in the number of PNMT-positive neurons in the RVLM, although the number of non-C1, spinally projecting barosensitive neurons of this area was not altered. The A5 cell group was the only other population of DbetaH-containing cells that was significantly depleted. The depressor response evoked by injection of tyramine into the RVLM was abolished by prior injection of toxin. The pressor response evoked by injection of glutamate into the RVLM was attenuated ipsilateral to the toxin injection but was potentiated contralateral to the toxin injection. Thus anti-DbetaH-saporin can be used to make selective lesions of PNMT-containing cells, allowing for the evaluation of their role in cardiovascular regulation.