Barosensitive neurons in the rostral ventrolateral medulla of the rat in vivo: Morphological properties and relationship to C1 adrenergic neurons

J. Lipski, R. Kanjhan, B. Kruszewska, M. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

114 Scopus citations


The aim of this study, conducted in anaesthetized rats, was to examine the morphology of barosensitive neurons in the rostral ventrolateral medulla and their immunoreactivity for a catecholamine synthesizing enzyme, tyrosine hydroxylase. Thirty neurons displaying inhibitory postsynyptic potentials following stimulation of the aortic depressor nerve were intracellularly labelled with Lucifer Yellow or Neurobiotin. Some of these neurons could be excited antidromically from the second thoracic segment of the spinal cord, with conduction velocities of spinal axons ranging from 1.9 to 7.2 m/s. The filled somas were found immediately caudal to the facial nucleus and ventral or ventromedial to compact formation of the nucleus ambiguus. Some dendrites reached the ventral medullary surface. Axons usually projected dorsomedially and then made a sharp rostral and/or caudal turn. The caudally projecting axon could, in some cases, be followed to the first cervical segment of the spinal cord. Seven cells issued fine axon collaterals on the ipsilateral side. These were identified mainly in two areas: in the rostral ventrolateral medulla (or immediately dorsomedial to that region), and within the dorsal vagal complex. Seven of 27 examined cells (26%) were tyrosine hydroxylase-immunoreactivee and were classified as C1 adrenergic neurons. No clear relationship was found between the presence or absence of adrenergic phenotype and the morphology of filled cells. However, the amplitude of aortic nerve-evoked inhibitory postsynaptic potentials was significantly larger in tyrosine hydroxylase-positive neurons. Possible reasons for the low percentage of barosensitive cells with tyrosine hydroxylase immunoreactivity found in this study, in comparison with previously published estimates, are discussed. This is the first study describing the morphology of neurons in this part of the medulla identified as barosensitive in vivo, and directly demonstrating adrenergic phenotype in a subset of these neurons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)601-618
Number of pages18
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • 3,3′-diaminobenzidine tetrahydrochloride
  • DAB
  • EPSP
  • FITC
  • IPSP
  • PNMT
  • RVLM
  • TH
  • central cardiovascular control
  • excitatory postsynaptic potential
  • fluorescein isothiocyanate
  • inhibitory postsynaptic potential
  • intracellular recording and labelling
  • phenylethanolamine-N-methyltransferase
  • presympathetic (sympathoexcitatory) neurons
  • rostral ventrolateral medulla
  • tyrosine hydroxylase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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