Role of dorsolateral periaqueductal grey in the coordinated regulation of cardiovascular and respiratory function

Roger A L Dampney*, Teri M. Furlong, Jouji Horiuchi, Kamon Iigaya

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The midbrain periaqueductal grey (PAG) contains four longitudinal columns, referred to as the dorsomedial (dmPAG), dorsolateral (dlPAG), lateral (lPAG) and ventrolateral (vlPAG) subdivisions, which collectively have a pivotal role in integrating behavioural and physiological responses to external stressors as well as other functions. This review is focussed on the dlPAG, which is believed to be an important component of the central mechanisms that generate the defensive response to acute psychological stressors, such as the presence of a predator or other immediate threat. The anatomical connections of the dlPAG are highly specific and distinctly different from those of the other PAG subregions. The chemical properties of the dlPAG are also distinctly different from the other PAG subregions (e.g. there is a very high density of neurons that synthesize nitric oxide in the dlPAG but very few such neurons in the other PAG subregions). Recent functional studies have demonstrated that neurons in the dlPAG exert a powerful control over both sympathetic and respiratory activity, and that the pattern of the evoked respiratory changes is also distinctly different from those evoked from other PAG subregions. These studies also showed that the sympathetic and respiratory changes evoked from the dlPAG are highly correlated, suggesting the possibility that a common population of "command neurons" within this region may generate the sympathetic and respiratory changes that accompany defensive behavioural responses to acute psychological stressors. Finally, although the anatomical connections and functional properties of the dlPAG are distinctly different from the other PAG subregions, they have many similarities with adjacent parts of the superior colliculus, suggesting that the dlPAG and deep layers of the superior colliculus may be part of a common defence system in the midbrain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-25
Number of pages9
JournalAutonomic Neuroscience: Basic and Clinical
Volume175
Issue number1-2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2013
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Defensive behaviour
  • Periaqueductal grey
  • Respiratory activity
  • Stress
  • Superior colliculus
  • Sympathetic activity

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