Activation of skeletal muscle afferents evokes release of glutamate in the subretrofacial nucleus (SRF) of cats

Jianhua Li, Jeffrey T. Potts, Gerald L. Kramer, Frederick Petty, Jere H. Mitchell

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7 Scopus citations


The subretrofacial nucleus (SRF) is a region of the rostral ventrolateral medulla known to play a crucial role in sympathoexcitation. SRF neurons send direct projections to the intermediolateral cell columns of the spinal cord where they form synaptic contact with preganglionic sympathetic motor neurons. Activation of this neural pathway increases sympathetic outflow to the heart and blood vessels affecting cardiac function and vasomotor tone. Previous studies utilizing electrophysiological recording techniques and c-Fos expression have established that the activity of SRF neurons is increased during skeletal muscle contraction. However, the excitatory neurotransmitter mediating this increased activity remains in question. In the present study, static contraction of the triceps surae was induced by electrical stimulation of L7 and S1 ventral roots in anesthetized cats (n=12). Endogenous release of glutamate (Glu) from the SRF was recovered by microdialysis and measured by HPLC. Static muscle contraction for 4 min increased mean arterial pressure (MAP) 38±4 mmHg from a control level of 102±12 mmHg (P<0.05). During muscle contraction the extracellular concentration of Glu recovered from the SRF increased from 623±117 to 1078±187 nM (P<0.05). To determine the effect of muscle contraction on Glu release in the absence of synaptic input from other reflexogenic areas, contraction was repeated following acute sinoaortic denervation and vagotomy. Following this denervation, muscle contraction increased MAP 41±4 mmHg (P<0.05) and Glu concentration from 635±246 to 1106±389 nM (P<0.05). Muscle paralysis prevented the increases in MAP and Glu concentration during ventral root stimulation. These results suggest that: (i) Glu is released in the SRF during activation of contraction-sensitive skeletal muscle afferent fibers in the cat; and (ii) synaptic input from other reflexogenic areas appears to be ineffective in modulating the release of Glu in the SRF during static muscle contraction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)249-254
Number of pages6
JournalBrain research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 16 2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology


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