Dbx1 pre-Bötzinger complex interneurons comprise the core inspiratory oscillator for breathing in adult mice
NC Vann, etc bioRxiv,
The brainstem pre-Bötzinger complex (preBötC) generates inspiratory breathing rhythms, but which neurons comprise its rhythmogenic core? Dbx1-derived neurons may play the preeminent role in rhythm generation, an idea well founded at perinatal stages of development but not in adulthood. We expressed archaerhodopsin or channelrhodopsin in Dbx1 preBötC neurons in intact adult mice to interrogate their function. Prolonged photoinhibition slowed down or stopped breathing, whereas prolonged photostimulation sped up breathing. Brief inspiratory-phase photoinhibition evoked the next breath earlier than expected, whereas brief expiratory-phase photoinhibition delayed the subsequent breath. Conversely, brief inspiratory-phase photostimulation increased inspiratory duration and delayed the subsequent breath, whereas brief expiratory-phase photostimulation evoked the next breath earlier than expected. Because they govern the frequency and precise timing of breaths in awake adult mice with sensorimotor feedback intact, Dbx1 preBötC neurons constitute an essential core component of the inspiratory oscillator, knowledge directly relevant to human health and physiology.