N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) glutamate receptors mediate critical components of cardiorespiratory control in anesthetized animals. The role of NMDA receptors in the ventilatory responses to peripheral and central chemoreceptor stimulation was investigated in conscious, freely behaving rats. Minute ventilation (VE) responses to 10% O2, 5% CO2, and increasing intravenous doses of sodium cyanide were measured in intact rats before and after intravenous administration of the NMDA receptor antagonist MK-801 (3 mg/kg). After MK-801, eupcapnic tidal volume (VT) decreased while frequency increased, resulting in a modest reduction in V̇. Inspiratory time (TI) decreased, whereas expiratory time remained unchanged. The V̇E responses to hypercapnia were qualitatively similar in control and MK-801 conditions, with slight reductions in respiratory drive (VT/TI) after MK-801. In contrast, responses to hypoxia were markedly attenuated after MK-801 and were primarily due to reduced frequency changes, whereas VT was unaffected. Sodium cyanide doses associated with significant V̇E increases were 5 and 50 μg/kg before and after MK-801, respectively. Thus 1-log shift to the right of individual dose-response curves occurred with MK-801. Selective carotid body denervation reduced V̇E during hypoxia by 70%, and residual hypoxic ventilatory responses were abolished after MK-801. These findings suggest that, in conscious rats, carotid and other peripheral chemoreceptor-mediated hypoxic ventilatory responses are critically dependent on NMDA receptor activation and that NMDA receptor mechanisms are only modestly involved during hypercapnia.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physiology (medical)