Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

UCLA Neurobiologists Identify Brain Cells That Control Breathing

Date:
August 27, 2001
Source:
University Of California - Los Angeles
Summary:
For the first time, UCLA scientists have identified the small group of brain cells believed to originate breathing in mammals. Reported in the September issue of Nature Neuroscience, their discovery could lead researchers to new approaches to addressing serious health problems, such as sleep apnea and sudden infant death syndrome.

For the first time, UCLA scientists have identified the small group of brain cells believed to originate breathing in mammals. Reported in the September issue of Nature Neuroscience, their discovery could lead researchers to new approaches to addressing serious health problems, such as sleep apnea and sudden infant death syndrome.

Related Articles


In a previous study, the UCLA team had pinpointed a specific region of brain tissue called the preBotzinger Complex as the command post for controlling breathing in mammals. Now, within the region, they distinguished a small group of neurons responsible for issuing the commands that generate breathing.

“We hypothesized that if these neurons were important, something unusual would happen to breathing if we destroyed them,” said Dr. Jack Feldman, Edith Agnes Plum Professor, UCLA neurobiology chair and principal investigator. “As it turned out, we were right.”

Using a rat model, the UCLA team zeroed in on the roughly 600 neurons — less than one millionth of one percent of the total neurons in an adult rat’s brain. The researchers stained a unique marker on the cells’ surfaces to identify and count them. Then they administered a toxin that targeted the marker to kill just these cells.

The results proved striking in animals that lost more than 80 percent of their neurons.

“These rats’ breathing dissolved from a regular, rhythmic pattern into a highly irregular pattern of breathing frequency and depth,” said Dr. Paul Gray, UCLA neurobiologist and first author. “Equally important, the rats’ brains stopped controlling the amounts of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the bloodstream — the whole point of breathing,” he said.

While the findings prove the necessary role of these neurons in normal breathing, UCLA researchers are equally excited by the study’s implications for the future.

“Our findings suggest that these neurons may hold the underlying causes of breathing disorders and offer an excellent target for drugs treating these disorders,” Feldman said.

Because mammals’ brains are organized in similar ways, Feldman believes that the same portion of the human brain will likely control breathing as that of rats.

The UCLA team’s next step will be to locate the same set of neurons in a human brainstem and then compare their physiology and function with the neurons of people with breathing disorders. If his hypothesis proves correct, Feldman may find fewer or dysfunctional neurons in the brains of people with breathing disorders.

Funding was provided by the National Institutes of Health, a Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship for Minorities and the Porter Physiology Development Program of the American Physiological Society. Drs. Wiktor Janzewski, Nicholas Mellen and Donald McCrimmon co-authored the study.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of California - Los Angeles. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of California - Los Angeles. "UCLA Neurobiologists Identify Brain Cells That Control Breathing." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 August 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/08/010827081221.htm>.
University Of California - Los Angeles. (2001, August 27). UCLA Neurobiologists Identify Brain Cells That Control Breathing. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 2, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/08/010827081221.htm
University Of California - Los Angeles. "UCLA Neurobiologists Identify Brain Cells That Control Breathing." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/08/010827081221.htm (accessed April 2, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

AAA: Distracted Driving a Serious Teen Problem

AAA: Distracted Driving a Serious Teen Problem

AP (Mar. 25, 2015) While distracted driving is not a new problem for teens, new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety says it&apos;s much more serious than previously thought. (March 25) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smartphone Use Changing Our Brain and Thumb Interaction, Say Researchers

Smartphone Use Changing Our Brain and Thumb Interaction, Say Researchers

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 25, 2015) European researchers say our smartphone use offers scientists an ideal testing ground for human brain plasticity. Dr Ako Ghosh&apos;s team discovered that the brains and thumbs of smartphone users interact differently from those who use old-fashioned handsets. Jim Drury went to meet him. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Many Don't Know They Have Alzheimer's, But Their Doctors Do

Many Don't Know They Have Alzheimer's, But Their Doctors Do

Newsy (Mar. 24, 2015) According to a new study by the Alzheimer&apos;s Association, more than half of those who have the degenerative brain disease aren&apos;t told by their doctors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
A Quick 45-Minute Nap Can Improve Your Memory

A Quick 45-Minute Nap Can Improve Your Memory

Newsy (Mar. 23, 2015) Researchers found those who napped for 45 minutes to an hour before being tested on information recalled it five times better than those who didn&apos;t. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins