Respiratory modulation of the activity in sympathetic neurones supplying muscle, skin and pelvic organs in the cat.
1. The respiratory-related modulation of activity in neurones of the lumbar sympathetic outflow to skeletal muscle, skin and pelvic organs was investigated in anaesthetized, paralysed and artificially ventilated cats, using single- and multi-unit recordings. The activity of the neurones was analysed with respect to the phrenic nerve discharge under various experimental conditions. 2. Neurones tentatively classified as muscle vasoconstrictor and visceral vasoconstrictor neurones exhibited two activity peaks, one caused by baroreceptor unloading during the declining phase of the second order blood pressure waves and a respiratory drive-dependent peak in parallel with inspiration. The two peaks were separated by depressions of activity in early inspiration and post-inspiration. After cutting vagus and buffer nerves the activity peak during inspiration remained and was followed and sometimes preceded by a depression of activity. 3. The majority of the neurones tentatively classified as cutaneous vasoconstrictor neurones exhibited no respiratory modulation in their activity. Others exhibited an activity peak in expiration, an activity peak in inspiration, or a respiratory profile similar to that in muscle vasoconstrictor neurones. During increased respiratory drive (induced by hypercapnia) some neurones with unmodulated activity changed to an inspiratory or an expiratory pattern. Neurones discharging predominantly in inspiration projected preferentially to hairless skin. 4. Neurones which were tentatively classified as sudomotor neurones discharged predominantly in early expiration. 5. Some preganglionic neurones which were tentatively classified as motility-regulating neurones discharged during expiration. The majority of these neurones disclosed no respiratory modulation of their activity. 6. The study shows that different types of neurone of the lumbar sympathetic system exhibit distinct patterns of respiratory modulation in their activity. We conclude that the type and degree of central coupling between respiratory system and sympathetic nervous system may vary according to the destination of the sympathetic neurones.