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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Influences of neck afferents on sympathetic and respiratory nerve activity.

It is well established that the vestibular system influences the sympathetic nervous system and the respiratory system; presumably, vestibulosympathetic and vestibulorespiratory responses participate in maintaining stable blood pressure and blood oxygenation during movement and changes in posture. Many brainstem neurons that generate vestibulospinal reflexes integrate signals from the labyrinth and neck muscles to distinguish between head movements on a stable body and whole body movements. In the present study, responses were recorded from the splanchnic (sympathetic), hypoglossal (inspiratory) and abdominal (expiratory) nerves during stimulation of the C2 dorsal root ganglion or C2 or C3 nerve branches innervating dorsal neck muscles. Stimulation of neck afferents using low current intensities, in many cases less than twice the threshold for producing an afferent volley recordable from the cord dorsum, elicited changes in sympathetic and respiratory nerve activity. These data suggest that head rotation on a stable body would elicit both cervical and vestibular inputs to respiratory motoneurons and sympathetic preganglionic neurons. The effects of cervical afferent stimulation on abdominal, splanchnic and hypoglossal nerve activity were not abolished by transection of the brainstem caudal to the vestibular nuclei; thus, pathways in addition to those involving the vestibular nuclei are involved in relaying cervical inputs to sympathetic preganglionic neurons and respiratory motoneurons. Transection of the C1-3 dorsal roots enhanced responses of the splanchnic and abdominal nerves to pitch head rotations on a fixed body but diminished responses of the hypoglossal nerve. Thus, neck and vestibular afferent influences on activity of respiratory pump muscles and sympathetic outflow appear to be antagonistic, so that responses will occur during whole body movements but not head movements on a stationary trunk. In contrast, neck and vestibular influences on tongue musculature are complementary, presumably to produce tongue protrusion either during movements of the head alone or of the whole body.[1]


  1. Influences of neck afferents on sympathetic and respiratory nerve activity. Bolton, P.S., Kerman, I.A., Woodring, S.F., Yates, B.J. Brain Res. Bull. (1998) [Pubmed]
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