Responses of caudal vestibular nucleus neurons of conscious cats to rotations in vertical planes, before and after a bilateral vestibular neurectomy.

Department of Otolaryngology, University of Pittsburgh, Room 519, Eye and Ear Institute, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA.
Experimental Brain Research (Impact Factor: 2.17). 06/2008; 188(2):175-86. DOI: 10.1007/s00221-008-1359-z
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Although many previous experiments have considered the responses of vestibular nucleus neurons to rotations and translations of the head, little data are available regarding cells in the caudalmost portions of the vestibular nuclei (CVN), which mediate vestibulo-autonomic responses among other functions. This study examined the responses of CVN neurons of conscious cats to rotations in vertical planes, both before and after a bilateral vestibular neurectomy. None of the units included in the data sample had eye movement-related activity. In labyrinth-intact animals, some CVN neurons (22%) exhibited graviceptive responses consistent with inputs from otolith organs, but most (55%) had dynamic responses with phases synchronized with stimulus velocity. Furthermore, the large majority of CVN neurons had response vector orientations that were aligned either near the roll or vertical canal planes, and only 18% of cells were preferentially activated by pitch rotations. Sustained head-up rotations of the body provide challenges to the cardiovascular system and breathing, and thus the response dynamics of the large majority of CVN neurons were dissimilar to those of posturally-related autonomic reflexes. These data suggest that vestibular influences on autonomic control mediated by the CVN are more complex than previously envisioned, and likely involve considerable processing and integration of signals by brainstem regions involved in cardiovascular and respiratory regulation. Following a bilateral vestibular neurectomy, CVN neurons regained spontaneous activity within 24 h, and a very few neurons (<10%) responded to vertical tilts <15 degrees in amplitude. These findings indicate that nonlabyrinthine inputs are likely important in sustaining the activity of CVN neurons; thus, these inputs may play a role in functional recovery following peripheral vestibular lesions.

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Vomiting and nausea can be elicited by a variety of stimuli, although there is considerable evidence that the same brainstem areas mediate these responses despite the triggering mechanism. A variety of experimental approaches showed that nucleus tractus solitarius, the dorsolateral reticular formation of the caudal medulla (lateral tegmental field), and the parabrachial nucleus play key roles in integrating signals that trigger nausea and vomiting. These brainstem areas presumably coordinate the contractions of the diaphragm and abdominal muscles that result in vomiting. However, it is unclear whether these regions also mediate the autonomic responses that precede and accompany vomiting, including alterations in gastrointestinal activity, sweating, and changes in blood flow to the skin. Recent studies showed that delivery of an emetic compound to the gastrointestinal system affects the processing of vestibular inputs in the lateral tegmental field and parabrachial nucleus, potentially altering susceptibility for vestibular-elicited vomiting. Findings from these studies suggested that multiple emetic inputs converge on the same brainstem neurons, such that delivery of one emetic stimulus affects the processing of another emetic signal. Despite the advances in understanding the neurobiology of nausea and vomiting, much is left to be learned. Additional neurophysiologic studies, particularly those conducted in conscious animals, will be crucial to discern the integrative processes in the brain stem that result in emesis.
    Experimental Brain Research 08/2014; 232(8):2455-2469. · 2.17 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Previous studies demonstrated that ingestion of the emetic compound copper sulfate (CuSO4) alters the responses to vestibular stimulation of a large fraction of neurons in brainstem regions that mediate nausea and vomiting, thereby affecting motion sickness susceptibility. Other studies suggested that the processing of vestibular inputs by cerebellar neurons plays a critical role in generating motion sickness and that neurons in the cerebellar fastigial nucleus receive visceral inputs. These findings raised the hypothesis that stimulation of gastrointestinal receptors by a nauseogenic compound affects the processing of labyrinthine signals by fastigial nucleus neurons. We tested this hypothesis in decerebrate cats by determining the effects of intragastric injection of CuSO4 on the responses of rostral fastigial nucleus to whole-body rotations that activate labyrinthine receptors. Responses to vestibular stimulation of fastigial nucleus neurons were more complex in decerebrate cats than reported previously in conscious felines. In particular, spatiotemporal convergence responses, which reflect the convergence of vestibular inputs with different spatial and temporal properties, were more common in decerebrate than in conscious felines. The firing rate of a small percentage of fastigial nucleus neurons (15 %) was altered over 50 % by the administration of CuSO4; the firing rate of the majority of these cells decreased. The responses to vestibular stimulation of a majority of these cells were attenuated after the compound was provided. Although these data support our hypothesis, the low fraction of fastigial nucleus neurons whose firing rate and responses to vestibular stimulation were affected by the administration of CuSO4 casts doubt on the notion that nauseogenic visceral inputs modulate motion sickness susceptibility principally through neural pathways that include the cerebellar fastigial nucleus. Instead, it appears that convergence of gastrointestinal and vestibular inputs occurs mainly in the brainstem.
    Experimental Brain Research 01/2014; 232(8):2581-2589. · 2.17 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Vestibular nucleus neurons have been shown to respond to stimulation of afferents innervating the limbs. However, a limitation in the potential translation of these findings is that they were obtained from decerebrate or anesthetized animals. The goal of the present study was to determine if stimulation of hindlimb nerves similarly affects vestibular nucleus neuronal activity in conscious cats, and whether the responsiveness of neurons to the stimuli is altered following a bilateral labyrinthectomy. In labyrinth-intact animals, the firing rate of 24/59 (41%) of the neurons in the caudal vestibular nucleus complex was affected by hindlimb nerve stimulation. Most responses were excitatory; the median response latency was 20 msec, but some units had response latencies as short as 10 msec. In the first week after a bilateral labyrinthectomy, the proportion of vestibular nucleus neurons that responded to hindlimb nerve stimulation increased slightly (to 24/55 or 44% of units). However, during the subsequent post-labyrinthectomy survival period, the proportion of vestibular nucleus neurons with hindlimb inputs increased significantly (to 30/49 or 61% of units). Stimuli to hindlimb nerves needed to elicit neuronal responses was consistently over three times the threshold for eliciting an afferent volley. These data show that inputs from hindlimb afferents smaller than those innervating muscle spindles and Golgi tendon organs affect the processing of information in the vestibular nuclei, and that these inputs are enhanced following a bilateral labyrinthectomy. These findings have implications for the development of a limb neuroprosthetics device for the management of bilateral vestibular loss.
    Journal of Applied Physiology 01/2013; · 3.43 Impact Factor

Full-text (2 Sources)

Available from
May 21, 2014