Swallowing-like activity elicited in neonatal rat medullary slice preparation

Brain Res. 2024 Apr 26;1837:148955. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2024.148955. Online ahead of print.


Swallowing is induced by a central pattern generator in the nucleus tractus solitarius (NTS). We aimed to create a medullary slice preparation to elucidate the neural architecture of the central pattern generator of swallowing (Sw-CPG) and record its neural activities. Experiments were conducted on 2-day-old Sprague-Dawley rats (n = 46). The brainstem-spinal cord was transected at the pontomedullary and cervicothoracic junctions; the medulla was sliced transversely at thicknesses of 600, 700, or 800 μm. The rostral end of the slice was 100 μm rostral to the vagus nerve. We recorded hypoglossal nerve activity and electrically stimulated the vagus nerve or microinjected bicuculline methiodide (BIC) into the NTS. The 800-μm slices generated both rhythmic respiratory activity and electrically elicited neural activity. The 700-μm slices generated only respiratory activity, while the 600-μm slices did not generate any neural activity. BIC microinjection into the NTS in 800-μm slices resulted in the typical activity that closely resembled the swallowing activity reported in other experiments. This swallowing-like activity consistently lengthened the respiratory interval. Despite complete inhibition of respiratory activity, weak swallowing-like activity was observed under bath application of a non-NMDA receptor antagonist. Contrastingly, bath application of NMDA receptor antagonists resulted in a complete loss of swallowing-like activity and no change in respiratory activity. These results suggest that the 800-μm medullary slice preparation contains both afferent and efferent neural circuits and pattern generators of swallowing activity. Additionally, NMDA receptors may be necessary for generating swallowing activity. This medullary slice preparation can therefore elucidate Sw-CPG neural networks.

PMID:38679314 | DOI:10.1016/j.brainres.2024.148955