C1 neurons: The body's EMTs

Patrice G. Guyenet, Ruth L. Stornetta, Genrieta Bochorishvili, Seth D. DePuy, Peter G R Burke, Stephen B G Abbott

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

211 Citations (Scopus)


The C1 neurons reside in the rostral and intermediate portions of the ventrolateral medulla (RVLM, IVLM). They use glutamate as a fast transmitter and synthesize catecholamines plus various neuropeptides. These neurons regulate the hypothalamic pituitary axis via direct projections to the paraventricular nucleus and regulate the autonomic nervous system via projections to sympathetic and parasympathetic preganglionic neurons. The presympathetic C1 cells, located in the RVLM, are probably organized in a roughly viscerotopic manner and most of them regulate the circulation. C1 cells are variously activated by hypoglycemia, infection or inflammation, hypoxia, nociception, and hypotension and contribute to most glucoprivic responses. C1 cells also stimulate breathing and activate brain stem noradrenergic neurons including the locus coeruleus. Based on the various effects attributed to the C1 cells, their axonal projections and what is currently known of their synaptic inputs, subsets of C1 cells appear to be differentially recruited by pain, hypoxia, infection/inflammation, hemorrhage, and hypoglycemia to produce a repertoire of stereotyped autonomic, metabolic, and neuroendocrine responses that help the organism survive physical injury and its associated cohort of acute infection, hypoxia, hypotension, and blood loss. C1 cells may also contribute to glucose and cardiovascular homeostasis in the absence of such physical stresses, and C1 cell hyperactivity may contribute to the increase in sympathetic nerve activity associated with diseases such as hypertension.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)R187-R204
Number of pages18
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Blood pressure
  • Brain stem
  • C1 neurons


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