The neuranatomical basis of central control of cardiorespiratory interactions in vertebrates

Edwin Taylor, MAD Al-Ghamdi, YI Ihmied, Tobias Wang, AS Abe

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

26 Citations (Scopus)


It seems that a dual location for vagal preganglionic neurones (VPNs) has important functional correlates in all vertebrates. This may be particularly the case with the central control exerted over the heart by cardiac VPNs (CVPNs). About 30 % of VPNs but up to 70 % of CVPNs are in the nucleus ambiguus (NA) of mammals. There is a similar proportional representation of VPNs between the major vagal nuclei in amphibians and turtles but in fish and crocodilians; the proportion of VPNs in the NA is closer to 10% and in some lizards and birds it is about 5%. However, the CVPNs are distributed unequally between these nuclei so that 45 % of the CVPNs are located in the NA of the dogfish, and about 30% in the NA of Xenopus and the duck. This topographical separation of CVPNs seems to be of importance in the central control of the heart. Cells in one location may show respiration-related activity (e.g those in the dorsal vagal nucleus (DVN) of dogfish and in the NA of mammals) while cells in the other locations do not. Their different activities and separate functions will be determined by their different afferent inputs from the periphery or from elsewhere in the CNS, which in turn will relate to their central topography. Thus, CVPNs in the NA of mammals receive inhibitory inputs from neighbouring inspiratory neurones, causing respiratory sinus arrythmia (RSA), and the CVPNs in the DVN of the dogfish may generate cardiorespiratory synchrony (CRS).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)771-776
Number of pages6
JournalExperimental Physiology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2001


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