Effect of substance P injection into the nucleus tractus solitarius of rats on cricothyroid and thyroarytenoid motor activity and cardiovascular and respiratory systems

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Annals of Otology, Rhinology and Laryngology








Cricothyroid muscle; Laryngeal adduction; Laryngospasm; Nucleus tractus solitarius; Substance P; Thyroarytenoid muscle


Identification of central neurotransmitters that mediate laryngeal adductor and/or tensor activity may prove useful in managing pathological laryngeal adduction as occurs in laryngospasm or apparent life-threatening events. The putative transmitter substance P (SP) is found in the nucleus tractus solitarius (NTS), in which laryngeal afferents terminate. Therefore, we studied the laryngeal, cardiovascular, and respiratory effects of SP injected into the NTS of rats. We completed bilateral stereotactic injections of 20 nL of SP (15 gmol) or control solution into the region of the NTS, the dorsal motor nucleus (DMN), or the nucleus gracilis (GR) in 30 anesthetized rats. Changes in diaphragm, cricothyroid (CT), and thyroarytenoid (TA) electromyography (EMG), as well as blood pressure (BP), were compared. The injection sites were verified histologically. Injection of SP into the NTS altered CT and/or TA EMG activity in all animals. The change ranged from complete inhibition, to a phasic increase, to a tonic increase. No change in laryngeal adductor EMG activity was seen in 8 of 9 animals after SP injections into the DMN (4/5) or GR (4/4), but 1 animal demonstrated brief inhibition of CT and TA EMG activity after SP injection into the DMN. Injection of SP into the NTS induced central apnea and a significant decrease in BP in all animals. The duration of apnea tended to be longer after NTS injections than after DMN or GR injections (p < .10 and p < .05, respectively). We conclude that stereotactic injections of putative neurotransmitters in rats may be accomplished to identify effects on laryngeal motor activity. Direct application of SP into the NTS consistently elicits a change in CT and/or TA EMG activity, ranging from inhibition to excitation. This model may prove useful in evaluating pharmacological targets of central reflex activity to manage life-threatening laryngeal reflex activity.

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