The effects of leucine-enkephalin on the membrane potential and activity of rat respiratory center neurons in vitro
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Studies of transverse slices of Wistar rat brainstem using a patch clamp technique addressed the effects of the opioid peptide leucine-enkephalin (10 nM–1 μM) on the membrane potential and pattern of spontaneous activity of neurons in two parts of the respiratory center: the ventrolateral area of the solitary tract nucleus and the pre-Bötzinger complex. Leucine-enkephalin induced membrane hyperpolarization of respiratory center neurons and decreased the level of spike activity in spontaneously active cells. In pre-Bötzinger complex neurons showing a burst pattern of activity, leucine-enkephalin decreased the burst frequency, and two cells showed a transition from burst activity to tonic activity. These results provide evidence that the mechanism of the central respiratory activity of leucine-enkephalin results from its direct action on the membranes of respiratory center neurons.
Key wordsrespiratory center solitary tract nucleus pre-Bötzinger complex leucine-enkephalin
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