N-methyl-d-aspartate mechanisms in depolarization of augmenting expiratory neurons during the expulsive phase of fictive cough in decerebrate cats

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Cough reflex is characterized by a large expulsive phase for expelling the mucus or particles from the airway. The present study investigated the involvement of N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) mechanisms in the expulsive phase of cough reflex using decerebrate and paralyzed cats. A fictive cough was induced by repetitive stimulation of the superior laryngeal nerve, which was characterized by an increased inspiratory discharge in the phrenic nerve (the stage 1 of fictive cough; SC1) and large spindle-shaped discharge in the iliohypogastric nerve (the stage 2 of fictive cough; SC2). Intravenous injection of an antagonist of NMDA receptors, dizocilpine (0.1 mg/kg), increased the threshold intensity of stimulation for inducing a fictive cough. The SC2 iliohypogastric response was more vulnerable to dizocilpine than the SC1 phrenic response. Membrane potential of augmenting expiratory (aug-E) neurons was recorded from the caudal ventral respiratory group. Aug-E neurons showed a large depolarization with a high frequency discharge during the SC2 in major cases (n = 35) and hyperpolarization in minor cases (n = 6). Dizocilpine inhibited the occurrence of these SC2 responses of aug-E neurons without any effect on the basal respiratory fluctuations of membrane potential. This drug had no significant effect on waves of excitatory and inhibitory postsynaptic potentials evoked in aug-E neurons by single pulse stimulation of the SLN. The present results demonstrated that NMDA mechanisms contribute preferentially to the expulsive phase response in aug-E neurons during fictive cough reflex.

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