Table of Contents
ISRN Neuroscience
Volume 2013, Article ID 152567, 10 pages
Research Article

Trigeminal Medullary Dorsal Horn Neurons Activated by Nasal Stimulation Coexpress AMPA, NMDA, and NK1 Receptors

Department of Physiology, Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine, Midwestern University, 555 31st Street, Downers Grove, IL 60515, USA

Received 16 August 2013; Accepted 7 October 2013

Academic Editors: A. Almeida and M. Chacur

Copyright © 2013 P. F. McCulloch et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Afferent information initiating the cardiorespiratory responses during nasal stimulation projects from the nasal passages to neurons within the trigeminal medullary dorsal horn (MDH) via the anterior ethmoidal nerve (AEN). Central AEN terminals are thought to release glutamate to activate the MDH neurons. This study was designed to determine which neurotransmitter receptors (AMPA, kainate, or NMDA glutamate receptor subtypes or the Substance P receptor NK1) are expressed by these activated MDH neurons. Fos was used as a neuronal marker of activated neurons, and immunohistochemistry combined with epifluorescent microscopy was used to determine which neurotransmitter receptor subunits were coexpressed by activated MDH neurons. Results indicate that, during nasal stimulation with ammonia vapors in urethane-anesthetized Sprague-Dawley rats, activated neurons within the superficial MDH coexpress the AMPA glutamate receptor subunits GluA1 (95.8%) and GluA2/3 (88.2%), the NMDA glutamate receptor subunits GluN1 (89.1%) and GluN2A (41.4%), and NK1 receptors (64.0%). It is therefore likely that during nasal stimulation the central terminals of the AEN release glutamate and substance P that then produces activation of these MDH neurons. The involvement of AMPA and NMDA receptors may mediate fast and slow neurotransmission, respectively, while NK1 receptor involvement may indicate activation of a nociceptive pathway.