The neuronal circuit in charge of generating the respiratory rhythms, localized in the pre-Bötzinger complex (preBötC), is configured to produce fictive-eupnea during normoxia and reconfigures to produce fictive-gasping during hypoxic conditions in vitro. The mechanisms involved in such reconfiguration have been extensively investigated by cell-focused studies, but the actual changes at the network level remain elusive. Since a failure to generate gasping has been linked to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), the study of gasping generation and pharmacological approaches to promote it may have clinical relevance. Here, we study the changes in network dynamics and circuit reconfiguration that occur during the transition to fictive-gasping generation in the brainstem slice preparation by recording the preBötC with multi-electrode arrays and assessing correlated firing among respiratory neurons or clusters of respiratory neurons (multiunits). We studied whether the respiratory network reconfiguration in hypoxia involves changes in either the number of active respiratory elements, the number of functional connections among elements, or the strength of these connections. Moreover, we tested the influence of isocitrate, a Krebs cycle intermediate that has recently been shown to promote breathing, on the configuration of the preBötC circuit during normoxia and on its reconfiguration during hypoxia. We found that, in contrast to previous suggestions based on cell-focused studies, the number and the overall activity of respiratory neurons change only slightly during hypoxia. However, hypoxia induces a reduction in the strength of functional connectivity within the circuit without reducing the number of connections. Isocitrate prevented this reduction during hypoxia while increasing the strength of network connectivity. In conclusion, we provide an overview of the configuration of the respiratory network under control conditions and how it is reconfigured during fictive-gasping. Additionally, our data support the use of isocitrate to favor respiratory rhythm generation under normoxia and to prevent some of the changes in the respiratory network under hypoxic conditions.
Última actualización: 18/05/2018