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acute intermittent hypoxia improves respiratory function after chronic cervical spinal cord injury

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    acute intermittent hypoxia improves respiratory function after chronic cervical spinal cord injury

    It has long been known that intermittent hypoxia (low oxygen) stimulates plasticity of the respiratory system. This study studies this phenomenon in rats with hemisected cervical C2 spinal cords. The interesting finding is that this treatment was effective at 8 weeks after injury but not at 2 weeks and also that the treatment was blocked by ketanserin (a serotonin 5-HT2A receptor blocker). The authors suggest that intermittent hypoxia may be most effective in restoring respiratory function in people with chronic spinal cord injury.

    Golder FJ and Mitchell GS (2005). Spinal synaptic enhancement with acute intermittent hypoxia improves respiratory function after chronic cervical spinal cord injury. J Neurosci 25: 2925-32. Respiratory insufficiency is the leading cause of death after high-cervical spinal cord injuries (SCIs). Although respiratory motor recovery can occur with time after injury, the magnitude of spontaneous recovery is limited. We hypothesized that partial respiratory motor recovery after chronic cervical SCI could be strengthened using a known stimulus for spinal synaptic enhancement, intermittent hypoxia. Phrenic motor output was recorded before and after intermittent hypoxia from anesthetized, vagotomized, and pump-ventilated control and C2 spinally hemisected rats at 2, 4, and 8 weeks after injury. Weak spontaneous phrenic motor recovery was present in all C2-injured rats via crossed spinal synaptic pathways that convey bulbospinal inspiratory premotor drive to phrenic motoneurons on the side of injury. Intermittent hypoxia augmented crossed spinal synaptic pathways [phrenic long-term facilitation; pLTF] for up to 60 min after hypoxia at 8 weeks, but not 2 weeks, after injury. Ketanserin, a serotonin 2A receptor antagonist, administered before intermittent hypoxia at 8 weeks after injury prevented pLTF. Serotonergic innervation near phrenic motoneurons was assessed after injury. The limited magnitude of pLTF at 2 weeks was associated with an injury-induced reduction in serotonin-containing nerve terminals in the vicinity of phrenic motoneurons ipsilateral to C2 hemisection. Thereafter, pLTF magnitude progressively increased with the recovery of serotonergic innervation in the phrenic motor nucleus. Intermittent hypoxia (or pLTF) has intriguing possibilities as a therapeutic tool, because its greatest efficacy may be in patients with chronic SCI, a time when most patients have already achieved maximal spontaneous functional recovery. Department of Comparative Biosciences, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin 53706, USA.

    Maybe works as in COPD Patients phenomenon ..... hypoxic overdrive, if so will the reverse also have effect of long weening time from vents? should weening start sooner ?

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      The potentiating effects of intermittent hypoxia on plasticity of the phrenic nerve system have long been reported, including the blocking effects of ketanserin.

      Gordon Mitchell (the senior author of the above study) also published another article with Tracy L. Baker-Herman in 2002 in the Journal of Neuroscience that reported that phrenic long-term facilitation requires spinal serotonin receptor activation and protein synthesis. You can download the original paper from

      Harry G. Goshgarian had earlier reported that sertonin receptors played a role in mediating respiratory recovery after cervical cord hemisection in adult rats, in 2001.