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University of Alberta
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Central respiratory depression constitutes a major clinical problem of infancy. Treatment of newborns with prostaglandins or opiates as well as severe hypoxia depress the medullary neuronal network that mediates breathing movements. Disturbed respiratory network function is also likely involved in sudden infant death. Using in vitro models of perinatal rodents, we wish to analyze the cellular mechanisms of drug-induced and endogeneous respiratory depression. We will combine electrophysiological recording of membrane potentials and currents with digital imaging of intracellular signalling factors in rhythmogenic "pre-Bötzinger Complex" respiratory neurons.
The aim of the research is to develop a novel pharmacological strategy to treat respiratory diseases. Based upon our current results, we will concentrate on clinically-applicable drugs that block inwardly-rectifying K+channels of the pre-Bötzinger Complex neurons via the cAMP-protein kinase-A pathway.