Journal of Physiology

Syndicate content
RSS feed -- current issue.
Updated: 14 weeks 5 days ago

Defining the neurocircuitry of exercise hyperpnoea

01 February 2014

One hundred years ago in this journal, Krogh and Lindhard published a seminal paper highlighting the importance of the brain in the control of breathing during exercise. This symposium report reviews the historical developments that have taken place since 1913, and attempts to place the detailed neurocircuitry thought to underpin exercise hyperpnoea into context by focusing on key structures that might form the command network. With the advent of enhanced neuroimaging and functional neurosurgical techniques, a unique window of opportunity has recently arisen to target potential circuits in humans. Animal studies have identified a priori sites of interest in mid-brain structures, in particular the subthalamic locomotor region (subthalamic nucleus, STN) and the periaqueductal grey (PAG), which have now been recorded from in humans during exercise. When all data are viewed in an integrative manner, the PAG, in particular the lateral PAG, and aspects of the dorsal lateral PAG, appear to be key communicating circuitry for ‘central command’. Moreover, the PAG also fulfils many requirements of a command centre. It has functional connectivity to higher centres (dorsal lateral prefrontal cortex) and the basal ganglia (in particular, the STN), and receives a sensory input from contracting muscle, but, importantly, it sends efferent information to brainstem nuclei involved in cardiorespiratory control.

The fast exercise drive to breathe

01 February 2014

This paper presents a personal view of research into the exercise drive to breathe that can be observed to act immediately to increase breathing at the start of rhythmic exercise. It is based on a talk given at the Experimental Biology 2013 meeting in a session entitled ‘Recent advances in understanding mechanisms regulating breathing during exercise’. This drive to breathe has its origin in a combination of central command, whereby voluntary motor commands to the exercising muscles produce a concurrent respiratory drive, and afferent feedback, whereby afferent information from the exercising muscles affects breathing. The drive at the start and end of rhythmic exercise is proportional to limb movement frequency, and its magnitude decays as exercise continues so that the immediate decrease of ventilation at the end of exercise is about 60% of the immediate increase at the start. With such evidence for the effect of this fast drive to breathe at the start and end of rhythmic exercise, its existence during exercise is hypothesised. Experiments to test this hypothesis have, however, provided debatable evidence. A fast drive to breathe during both ramp and sine wave changes in treadmill exercise speed and grade appears to be present in some individuals, but is not as evident in the general population. Recent sine-wave cycling experiments show that when cadence is varied sinusoidally the ventilation response lags by about 10 s, whereas when pedal loading is varied ventilation lags by about 30 s. It therefore appears that limb movement frequency is effective in influencing ventilation during exercise as well as at the start and end of exercise.

Tracking pulmonary gas exchange by breathing control during exercise: role of muscle blood flow

01 February 2014

Populations of group III and IV muscle afferent fibres located in the adventitia of the small vessels appear to respond to the level of venular distension and to recruitment of the vascular bed within the skeletal muscles. The CNS could thus be informed on the level of muscle hyperaemia when the metabolic rate varies. As a result, the magnitude and kinetics of the change in peripheral gas exchange – which translates into pulmonary gas exchange – can be sensed. We present the view that the respiratory control system uses these sources of information of vascular origin, among the numerous inputs produced by exercise, as a marker of the metabolic strain imposed on the circulatory and the ventilatory systems, resulting in an apparent matching between pulmonary gas exchange and alveolar ventilation.

Are type III-IV muscle afferents required for a normal steady-state exercise hyperpnoea in humans?

01 February 2014

When tested in isolation, stimuli associated with respiratory CO2 exchange, feedforward central command and type III–IV muscle afferent feedback have each been shown to be capable of eliciting exercise-like cardio-ventilatory responses, but their relative contributions in a setting of physiological exercise remains controversial. We reasoned that in order to determine whether any of these regulators are obligatory to the exercise hyperpnoea each needs to be removed or significantly diminished in a setting of physiological steady-state exercise, during which all recognized stimuli (and other potential modulators) are normally operative. In the past few years we and others have used intrathecal fentanyl, a μ-opiate receptor agonist, in humans to reduce the input from type III–IV opiate-sensitive muscle afferents. During various types of intensities and durations of exercise a sustained hypoventilation, as well as reduced systemic pressure and cardioacceleration, were consistently observed with this blockade. These data provide the basis for the hypothesis that type III–IV muscle afferents are obligatory to the hyperpnoea of mild to moderate intensity rhythmic, large muscle, steady-state exercise. We discuss the limitations of these studies, the reasons for their disagreement with previous negative findings, the nature of the muscle afferent feedback stimulus and the need for future investigations.

Xanthine oxidase and the fetal cardiovascular defence to hypoxia in late gestation ovine pregnancy

01 February 2014

Hypoxia is a common challenge to the fetus, promoting a physiological defence to redistribute blood flow towards the brain and away from peripheral circulations. During acute hypoxia, reactive oxygen species (ROS) interact with nitric oxide (NO) to provide an oxidant tone. This contributes to the mechanisms redistributing the fetal cardiac output, although the source of ROS is unknown. Here, we investigated whether ROS derived from xanthine oxidase (XO) contribute to the fetal peripheral vasoconstrictor response to hypoxia via interaction with NO-dependent mechanisms. Pregnant ewes and their fetuses were surgically prepared for long-term recording at 118 days of gestation (term approximately 145 days). After 5 days of recovery, mothers were infused i.v. for 30 min with either vehicle (n = 11), low dose (30 mg kg–1, n = 5) or high dose (150 mg kg–1, n = 9) allopurinol, or high dose allopurinol with fetal NO blockade (n = 6). Following allopurinol treatment, fetal hypoxia was induced by reducing maternal inspired O2 such that fetal basal P aO 2 decreased approximately by 50% for 30 min. Allopurinol inhibited the increase in fetal plasma uric acid and suppressed the fetal femoral vasoconstrictor, glycaemic and lactate acidaemic responses during hypoxia (all P < 0.05), effects that were restored to control levels with fetal NO blockade. The data provide evidence for the activation of fetal XO in vivo during hypoxia and for XO-derived ROS in contributing to the fetal peripheral vasoconstriction, part of the fetal defence to hypoxia. The data are of significance to the understanding of the physiological control of the fetal cardiovascular system during hypoxic stress. The findings are also of clinical relevance in the context of obstetric trials in which allopurinol is being administered to pregnant women when the fetus shows signs of hypoxic distress.

Purinergic control of vascular tone in the retina

01 February 2014

Purinergic control of vascular tone in the CNS has been largely unexplored. This study examines the contribution of endogenous extracellular ATP, acting on vascular smooth muscle cells, in controlling vascular tone in the in vivo rat retina. Retinal vessels were labelled by i.v. injection of a fluorescent dye and imaged with scanning laser confocal microscopy. The diameters of primary arterioles were monitored under control conditions and following intravitreal injection of pharmacological agents. Apyrase (500 units ml–1), an ATP hydrolysing enzyme, dilated retinal arterioles by 40.4 ± 2.8%, while AOPCP (12.5 mm), an ecto-5'-nucleotidase inhibitor that increases extracellular ATP levels, constricted arterioles by 58.0 ± 3.8% (P < 0.001 for both), demonstrating the importance of ATP in the control of basal vascular tone. Suramin (500 μm), a broad-spectrum P2 receptor antagonist, dilated retinal arterioles by 50.9 ± 3.7% (P < 0.001). IsoPPADS (300 μm) and TNP-ATP (50 μm), more selective P2X antagonists, dilated arterioles by 41.0 ± 5.3% and 55.2 ± 6.1% respectively (P < 0.001 for both). NF023 (50 μm), a potent antagonist of P2X1 receptors, dilated retinal arterioles by 32.1 ± 2.6% (P < 0.001). A438079 (500 μm) and AZ10606120 (50 μm), P2X7 antagonists, had no effect on basal vascular tone (P = 0.99 and P = 1.00 respectively). In the ex vivo retina, the P2X1 receptor agonist α,β-methylene ATP (300 nm) evoked sustained vasoconstrictions of 18.7 ± 3.2% (P < 0.05). In vivo vitreal injection of the gliotoxin fluorocitrate (150 μm) dilated retinal vessels by 52.3 ± 1.1% (P < 0.001) and inhibited the vasodilatory response to NF023 (50 μm, 7.9 ± 2.0%; P < 0.01). These findings suggest that vascular tone in rat retinal arterioles is maintained by tonic release of ATP from the retina. ATP acts on P2X1 receptors, although contributions from other P2X and P2Y receptors cannot be ruled out. Retinal glial cells are a possible source of the vasoconstricting ATP.

Apelin inhibits the development of diabetic nephropathy by regulating histone acetylation in Akita mouse

01 February 2014

Diabetic nephropathy is the primary cause of end-stage renal disease. Increasing numbers of patients are suffering from this disease and therefore novel medications and therapeutic approaches are urgently needed. Here, we investigated whether apelin-13, the most active member of the adipokine apelin group, could effectively suppress the development of nephropathy in Akita mouse, a spontaneous type 1 diabetic model. Apelin-13 treatment decreased diabetes-induced glomerular filtration rate, proteinuria, glomerular hypertrophy, mesangial expansion and renal inflammation. The inflammatory factors, activation of NF-B, histone acetylation and the enzymes involved in histone acetylation were further examined in diabetic kidneys and high glucose- or sodium butyrate-treated mesangial cells in the presence or absence of apelin-13. Apelin-13 treatment inhibited diabetes-, high glucose- and NaB-induced elevation of inflammatory factors, and histone hyperacetylation by upregulation of histone deacetylase 1. Furthermore, overexpression of apelin in mesangial cells induced histone deacetylation under high glucose condition. Thus, apelin-13 may be a novel therapeutic candidate for treatment of diabetic nephropathy via regulation of histone acetylation.

Effects of type 1 diabetes, sprint training and sex on skeletal muscle sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ uptake and Ca2+-ATPase activity

01 February 2014

Calcium cycling is integral to muscle performance during the rapid muscle contraction and relaxation of high-intensity exercise. Ca2+ handling is altered by diabetes mellitus, but has not previously been investigated in human skeletal muscle. We investigated effects of high-intensity exercise and sprint training on skeletal muscle Ca2+ regulation among men and women with type 1 diabetes (T1D, n = 8, 3F, 5M) and matched non-diabetic controls (CON, n = 8, 3F, 5M). Secondarily, we examined sex differences in Ca2+ regulation. Subjects undertook 7 weeks of three times-weekly cycle sprint training. Before and after training, performance was measured, and blood and muscle were sampled at rest and after high-intensity exercise. In T1D, higher Ca2+-ATPase activity (+28%) and Ca2+ uptake (+21%) than in CON were evident across both times and days (P < 0.05), but performance was similar. In T1D, resting Ca2+-ATPase activity correlated with work performed until exhaustion (r = 0.7, P < 0.01). Ca2+-ATPase activity, but not Ca2+ uptake, was lower (–24%, P < 0.05) among the women across both times and days. Intense exercise did not alter Ca2+-ATPase activity in T1D or CON. However, sex differences were evident: Ca2+-ATPase was reduced with exercise among men but increased among women across both days (time x sex interaction, P < 0.05). Sprint training reduced Ca2+-ATPase (–8%, P < 0.05), but not Ca2+ uptake, in T1D and CON. In summary, skeletal muscle Ca2+ resequestration capacity was increased in T1D, but performance was not greater than CON. Sprint training reduced Ca2+-ATPase in T1D and CON. Sex differences in Ca2+-ATPase activity were evident and may be linked with fibre type proportion differences.

Age-related changes in afferent pathways and urothelial function in the male mouse bladder

01 February 2014

The prevalence of lower urinary tract storage disorders such as overactive bladder syndrome and urinary incontinence significantly increase with age. Previous studies have demonstrated age-related changes in detrusor function and urothelial transmitter release but few studies have investigated how the urothelium and sensory pathways are affected. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of ageing on urothelial-afferent signalling in the mouse bladder. Three-month-old control and 24-month-old aged male mice were used. In vivo natural voiding behaviour, sensory nerve activity, urothelial cell function, muscle contractility, transmitter release and gene and protein expression were measured to identify how all three components of the bladder (neural, contractile and urothelial) are affected by ageing. In aged mice, increased voiding frequency and enhanced low threshold afferent nerve activity was observed, suggesting that ageing induces overactivity and hypersensitivity of the bladder. These changes were concurrent with altered ATP and acetylcholine bioavailability, measured as transmitter overflow into the lumen, increased purinergic receptor sensitivity and raised P2X3 receptor expression in the urothelium. Taken together, these data suggest that ageing results in aberrant urothelial function, increased afferent mechanosensitivity, increased smooth muscle contractility, and changes in gene and protein expression (including of P2X3). These data are consistent with the hypothesis that ageing evokes changes in purinergic signalling from the bladder, and further studies are now required to fully validate this idea.

TRPV3: time to decipher a poorly understood family member!

22 January 2014

The vanilloid transient receptor potential channel TRPV3 differs in several aspects from other members of the TRPV subfamily. This Ca2+-, ATP- and calmodulin-regulated channel constitutes a target for many natural compounds and has a unique expression pattern as the most prominent and important TRP channel in keratinocytes of the skin. Although TRPV3 is considered as a thermosensitive channel, its function as a thermosensor in the skin is challenged. Nevertheless, it plays important roles in other skin functions such as cutaneous sensations, hair development and barrier function. More recently, mutations in TRPV3 were linked with a rare genodermatosis known as the Olmsted syndrome. This review gives an overview on properties of TRPV3 and its functions in the skin and skin diseases.

Ca2+ and cAMP cross-talk in mitochondria

22 January 2014

While mitochondrial Ca2+ homeostasis has been studied for several decades and many of the functional roles of Ca2+ accumulation within the matrix have been at least partially clarified, the possibility of modulation of the organelle functions by cAMP remains largely unknown. In this contribution we briefly summarize the key aspects of Ca2+ and cAMP signalling pathways in mitochondria. In particular, we focus on recent findings concerning the discovery of an autonomous cAMP toolkit within the mitochondrial matrix, its crossroad with mitochondrial Ca2+ signalling and its role in controlling ATP synthesis. The discovery of a cAMP signalling, and the demonstration of a cross-talk between cAMP and Ca2+ inside mitochondria, open the way to a re-evaluation of these organelles as integrators of multiple second messengers. A description of the main methods presently available to measure Ca2+ and cAMP in mitochondria of living cells with genetically encoded probes is also presented.