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

Nitric oxide changes its role as a modulator of respiratory motor activity during development in the bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana).

Nitric oxide (NO) is a unique chemical messenger that has been shown to play a role in the modulation of breathing in amphibians and other vertebrates. In the post-metamorphic tadpole and adult amphibian brainstem, NO, acting via the neuronal isoform of nitric oxide synthase (nNOS), is excitatory to the generation of lung burst activity. In this study, we examine the modulation of breathing by NO during development of the amphibian brainstem. Isolated brainstem preparations from pre-metamorphic and late-stage post-metamorphic tadpoles (Rana catesbeiana) were used to determine the role of NO in modulating central respiratory neural activity. Respiratory neural activity was monitored with suction electrodes recording extracellular activity of cranial nerve rootlets that innervate respiratory musculature. Brainstems were superfused with an artificial cerebrospinal fluid (aCSF) at 20-22 degrees C containing l-nitroarginine (l-NA; 1-10 mM), a non-selective NOS inhibitor. In pre-metamorphic tadpoles, l-NA increased fictive gill ventilation frequency and amplitude, and increased lung burst frequency. By contrast, l-NA applied to the post-metamorphic tadpole brainstem had little effect on fictive buccal activity, but significantly decreased lung burst frequency and the frequency of lung burst episodes. These data indicate that early in development, NO provides a tonic inhibitory input to gill and lung burst activity, but as development progresses, NO provides an excitatory input to lung ventilation. This changing role for NO coincides with the shift in importance in the different respiratory modes during development in amphibians; that is, pre-metamorphic tadpoles rely predominantly on gill ventilation whereas post-metamorphic tadpoles have lost the gills and are obligate air-breathers primarily using lungs for gas exchange. We hypothesize that NO provides a tonic input to the respiratory CPG during development and this changing role reflects the modulatory influence of NO on inhibitory or excitatory modulators or neurotransmitters involved in the generation of respiratory rhythm.[1]


  1. Nitric oxide changes its role as a modulator of respiratory motor activity during development in the bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana). Hedrick, M.S., Chen, A.K., Jessop, K.L. Comp. Biochem. Physiol., Part A Mol. Integr. Physiol. (2005) [Pubmed]
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