January 18, 2021

Heartbeats entrain breathing via baroreceptor-mediated modulation of expiratory activity

Cardio-ventilatory coupling refers to a heartbeat (HB) occurring at a preferred latency before the onset of the next breath. We hypothesized that the pressure pulse generated by a HB activates baroreceptors that modulates brainstem expiratory neuronal activity and delays the initiation of inspiration. In supine male subjects, we recorded ventilation, electrocardiogram, and blood pressure during 20-min epochs of baseline, slow-deep breathing, and recovery. In in situ rodent preparations, we recorded brainstem activity in response to pulses of perfusion pressure. We applied a well-established respiratory network model to interpret these data. In humans, the latency between HBs and onset of inspiration was consistent across different breathing patterns. In in situ preparations, a transient pressure pulse during expiration activated a subpopulation of expiratory neurons normally active during post-inspiration; thus, delaying the next inspiration. In the model, baroreceptor input to post-inspiratory neurons accounted for the effect. These studies are consistent with baroreflex activation modulating respiration through a pauci-synaptic circuit from baroreceptors to onset of inspiration.

 bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience

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