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1.  Effects of Glycinergic Inhibition Failure on Respiratory Rhythm and Pattern Generation 
Progress in brain research  2014;209:25-38.
Inhibitory interactions between neurons of the respiratory network are involved in rhythm generation and pattern formation. Using a computational model of brainstem respiratory networks, we investigated the possible effects of suppressing glycinergic inhibition on the activity of different respiratory neuron types. Our study revealed that progressive suppression of glycinergic inhibition affected all neurons of the network and disturbed neural circuits involved in termination of inspiration. Causal was a dysfunction of postinspiratory inhibition targeting inspiratory neurons, which often led to irregular preterm reactivation of these neurons, producing double or multiple short-duration inspiratory bursts. An increasing blockade of glycinergic inhibition led to apneustic inspiratory activity. Similar disturbances of glycinergic inhibition also occur during hypoxia. A clear difference in prolonged hypoxia, however, is that the rhythm terminates in expiratory apnea. The critical function of glycinergic inhibition for normal respiratory rhythm generation and the consequences of its reduction, including in pathological conditions, are discussed.
PMCID: PMC4065418  PMID: 24746041
computational modeling; respiratory rhythm; pre-Bötzinger complex; glycinergic inhibition; apneusis; apnea; hypoxia; translational medicine
2.  Rhythmic Bursting in the Pre-Bötzinger Complex: Mechanisms and Models 
Progress in brain research  2014;209:1-23.
The pre-Bötzinger complex (pre-BötC), a neural structure involved in respiratory rhythm generation, can generate rhythmic bursting activity in vitro that persists after blockade of synaptic inhibition. Experimental studies have identified two mechanisms potentially involved in this activity: one based on the persistent sodium current (INaP) and the other involving calcium (ICa) and/or calcium-activated nonspecific cation (ICAN) currents. In this modeling study, we investigated bursting generated in single neurons and excitatory neural populations with randomly distributed conductances of INaP and ICa. We analyzed the possible roles of these currents, the Na+/K+ pump, synaptic mechanisms, and network interactions in rhythmic bursting generated under different conditions. We show that a population of synaptically coupled excitatory neurons with randomly distributed INaP- and/or ICAN-mediated burst generating mechanisms can operate in different oscillatory regimes with bursting dependent on either current or independent of both. The existence of multiple oscillatory regimes and their state dependence may explain rhythmic activities observed in the pre-BötC under different conditions.
PMCID: PMC4059190  PMID: 24746040
neural oscillations; respiration; persistent sodium current; calcium-activated nonspecific cation current; sodium–potassium pump
3.  Spatial organization and state-dependent mechanisms for respiratory rhythm and pattern generation 
Progress in brain research  2007;165:201-220.
The brainstem respiratory network can operate in multiple functional states engaging different state-dependent neural mechanisms. These mechanisms were studied in the in situ perfused rat brainstem–spinal cord preparation using sequential brainstem transections and administration of riluzole, a pharmacological blocker of persistent sodium current (INaP). Dramatic transformations in the rhythmogenic mechanisms and respiratory motor pattern were observed after removal of the pons and subsequent medullary transactions down to the rostral end of pre-Bötzinger complex (pre-BötC). A computational model of the brainstem respiratory network was developed to reproduce and explain these experimental findings. The model incorporates several interacting neuronal compartments, including the ventral respiratory group (VRG), pre-BötC, Bötzinger complex (BötC), and pons. Simulations mimicking the removal of circuit components following transections closely reproduce the respiratory motor output patterns recorded from the intact and sequentially reduced brainstem preparations. The model suggests that both the operating rhythmogenic mechanism (i.e., network-based or pacemaker-driven) and the respiratory pattern generated (e.g., three-phase, two-phase, or one-phase) depend on the state of the pre-BötC (expression of INaP-dependent intrinsic rhythmogenic mechanisms) and the BötC (providing expiratory inhibition in the network). At the same time, tonic drives from pons and multiple medullary chemoreceptive sites appear to control the state of these compartments and hence the operating rhythmogenic mechanism and motor pattern. Our results suggest that the brainstem respiratory network has a spatial (rostral-to-caudal) organization extending from the rostral pons to the VRG, in which each functional compartment is controlled by more rostral compartments. The model predicts a continuum of respiratory network states relying on different contributions of intrinsic cellular properties versus synaptic interactions for the generation and control of the respiratory rhythm and pattern.
PMCID: PMC2408750  PMID: 17925248
respiratory CPG; brainstem; medulla; pons; pre-Bötzinger complex; computational modeling; respiratory rhythm generation
4.  Modeling the mammalian locomotor CPG: insights from mistakes and perturbations 
Progress in brain research  2007;165:235-253.
A computational model of the mammalian spinal cord circuitry incorporating a two-level central pattern generator (CPG) with separate half-center rhythm generator (RG) and pattern formation (PF) networks is reviewed. The model consists of interacting populations of interneurons and motoneurons described in the Hodgkin-Huxley style. Locomotor rhythm generation is based on a combination of intrinsic (persistent sodium current dependent) properties of excitatory RG neurons and reciprocal inhibition between the two half-centers comprising the RG. The two-level architecture of the CPG was suggested from an analysis of deletions (spontaneous omissions of activity) and the effects of afferent stimulation on the locomotor pattern and rhythm observed during fictive locomotion in the cat. The RG controls the activity of the PF network that in turn defines the rhythmic pattern of motoneuron activity. The model produces realistic firing patterns of two antagonist motoneuron populations and generates locomotor oscillations encompassing the range of cycle periods and phase durations observed during cat locomotion. A number of features of the real CPG operation can be reproduced with separate RG and PF networks, which would be difficult if not impossible to demonstrate with a classical single-level CPG. The two-level architecture allows the CPG to maintain the phase of locomotor oscillations and cycle timing during deletions and during sensory stimulation. The model provides a basis for functional identification of spinal interneurons involved in generation and control of the locomotor pattern.
PMCID: PMC2408748  PMID: 17925250
spinal cord; CPG; rhythm generation; locomotion; afferent control

Results 1-4 (4)