Vincent J DeStefino

University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States

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Publications (4)15.65 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Anatomical studies have demonstrated that the vestibular nuclei project to nucleus tractus solitarius (NTS), but little is known about the effects of vestibular inputs on NTS neuronal activity. Furthermore, lesions of NTS abolish vomiting elicited by a variety of different triggering mechanisms, including vestibular stimulation, suggesting that emetic inputs may converge on the same NTS neurons. As such, an emetic stimulus that activates gastrointestinal (GI) receptors could alter the responses of NTS neurons to vestibular inputs. In the present study, we examined in decerebrate cats the responses of NTS neurons to rotations of the body in vertical planes before and after the intragastric administration of the emetic compound copper sulfate. The activity of more than one-third of NTS neurons was modulated by vertical vestibular stimulation, with most of the responsive cells having their firing rate altered by rotations in the head-up or head-down directions. These responses were aligned with head position in space, as opposed to the velocity of head movements. The activity of NTS neurons with baroreceptor, pulmonary, and GI inputs could be modulated by vertical plane rotations. However, injection of copper sulfate into the stomach did not alter the responses to vestibular stimulation of NTS neurons that received GI inputs, suggesting that the stimuli did not have additive effects. These findings show that the detection and processing of visceral inputs by NTS neurons can be altered in accordance with the direction of ongoing movements.
    AJP Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology 08/2011; 301(5):R1380-90. · 3.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Although it is well established that bulbospinal neurons located in the rostral ventrolateral medulla (RVLM) play a pivotal role in regulating sympathetic nerve activity and blood pressure, virtually all neurophysiological studies of this region have been conducted in anesthetized or decerebrate animals. In the present study, we used time- and frequency-domain analyses to characterize the naturally occurring discharges of RVLM neurons in conscious cats. Specifically, we compared their activity to fluctuations in carotid artery blood flow to identify neurons with cardiac-related (CR) activity; we then considered whether neurons with CR activity also had a higher-frequency rhythmic firing pattern. In addition, we ascertained whether the surgical removal of vestibular inputs altered the rhythmic discharge properties of RVLM neurons. Less than 10% of RVLM neurons expressed CR activity, although the likelihood of observing a neuron with CR activity in the RVLM varied between recording sessions, even when tracking occurred in a very limited area and was higher after vestibular inputs were surgically removed. Either a 10-Hz or a 20- to 30-Hz rhythmic discharge pattern coexisted with the CR discharges in some of the RVLM neurons. Additionally, the firing rate of RVLM neurons, including those with CR activity, decreased after vestibular lesions. These findings raise the prospect that RVLM neurons may or may not express rhythmic firing patterns at a particular time due to a variety of influences, including descending projections from higher brain centers and sensory inputs, such as those from the vestibular system.
    AJP Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology 07/2011; 301(4):R937-46. · 3.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The responses to vestibular stimulation of brain stem neurons that regulate sympathetic outflow and blood flow have been studied extensively in decerebrate preparations, but not in conscious animals. In the present study, we compared the responses of neurons in the rostral ventrolateral medulla (RVLM), a principal region of the brain stem involved in the regulation of blood pressure, to whole body rotations of conscious and decerebrate cats. In both preparations, RVLM neurons exhibited similar levels of spontaneous activity (median of ∼17 spikes/s). The firing of about half of the RVLM neurons recorded in decerebrate cats was modulated by rotations; these cells were activated by vertical tilts in a variety of directions, with response characteristics suggesting that their labyrinthine inputs originated in otolith organs. The activity of over one-third of RVLM neurons in decerebrate animals was altered by stimulation of baroreceptors; RVLM units with and without baroreceptor signals had similar responses to rotations. In contrast, only 6% of RVLM neurons studied in conscious cats exhibited cardiac-related activity, and the firing of just 1% of the cells was modulated by rotations. These data suggest that the brain stem circuitry mediating vestibulosympathetic reflexes is highly sensitive to changes in body position in space but that the responses to vestibular stimuli of neurons in the pathway are suppressed by higher brain centers in conscious animals. The findings also raise the possibility that autonomic responses to a variety of inputs, including those from the inner ear, could be gated according to behavioral context and attenuated when they are not necessary.
    Journal of Applied Physiology 06/2011; 110(6):1699-707. · 3.48 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: FR901464 is a potent antitumor natural product that binds to the splicing factor 3b complex and inhibits pre-mRNA splicing. Its analogue, meayamycin, is two orders of magnitude more potent as an antiproliferative agent against human breast cancer MCF-7 cells. Here, we report the picomolar antiproliferative activity of meayamycin against various cancer cell lines and multidrug-resistant cells. Time-dependence studies implied that meayamycin may form a covalent bond with its target protein(s). Meayamycin inhibited pre-mRNA splicing in HEK-293 cells but not alternative splicing in a neuronal system. Meayamycin exhibited specificity toward human lung cancer cells compared with nontumorigenic human lung fibroblasts and retained picomolar growth-inhibitory activity against multidrug-resistant cells. These data suggest that meayamycin is a useful chemical probe to study pre-mRNA splicing in live cells and is a promising lead as an anticancer agent.
    Molecular Cancer Therapeutics 09/2009; 8(8):2308-18. · 5.60 Impact Factor