PreBötzinger complex neurons drive respiratory modulation of blood pressure and heart rate

Clément Menuet, Angela A. Connelly, Jaspreet K. Bassi, Mariana R. Melo, Sheng Le, Jessica Kamar, Natasha N. Kumar, Stuart J. McDougall, Simon McMullan, Andrew M. Allen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)
28 Downloads (Pure)


Heart rate and blood pressure oscillate in phase with respiratory activity. A component of these oscillations is generated centrally, with respiratory neurons entraining the activity of pre-sympathetic and parasympathetic cardiovascular neurons. Using a combination of optogenetic inhibition and excitation in vivo and in situ in rats, as well as neuronal tracing, we demonstrate that preBötzinger Complex (preBötC) neurons, which form the kernel for inspiratory rhythm generation, directly modulate cardiovascular activity. Specifically, inhibitory preBötC neurons modulate cardiac parasympathetic neuron activity whilst excitatory preBötC neurons modulate sympathetic vasomotor neuron activity, generating heart rate and blood pressure oscillations in phase with respiration. Our data reveal yet more functions entrained to the activity of the preBötC, with a role in generating cardiorespiratory oscillations. The findings have implications for cardiovascular pathologies, such as hypertension and heart failure, where respiratory entrainment of heart rate is diminished and respiratory entrainment of blood pressure exaggerated.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere57288
Pages (from-to)1-30
Number of pages30
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2020

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s). Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • cardiorespiratory control
  • master oscillator
  • neuroscience
  • optogenetic inhibition
  • prebötzinger complex
  • rat
  • respiratory sinus arrhythmia
  • respiratory-sympathetic modulation


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