Autonomic effects induced by pharmacological activation and inhibition of Raphe Pallidus neurons in anaesthetized adult pigs

Mino Zucchelli, Stefano Bastianini, Domenico Ventrella, Francesca Barone, Alberto Elmi, Noemi Romagnoli, Timna Hitrec, Chiara Berteotti, Alessia Di Cristoforo, Marco Luppi, Roberto Amici, Maria L. Bacci, Matteo Cerri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Raphe Pallidus (RPa) is a region of the brainstem that was shown to modulate the sympathetic outflow to many tissues and organs involved in thermoregulation and energy expenditure. In rodents, the pharmacological activation of RPa neurons was shown to increase the activity of the brown adipose tissue, heart rate, and expired CO2, whereas their inhibition was shown to induce cutaneous vasodilation and a state of hypothermia that, when prolonged, leads to a state resembling torpor referred to as synthetic torpor. If translatable to humans, this synthetic torpor-inducing procedure would be advantageous in many clinical settings. A first step to explore such translatability, has been to verify whether the neurons within the RPa play the same role described for rodents in a larger mammal such as the pig. In the present study, we show that the physiological responses inducible by the pharmacological stimulation of RPa neurons are very similar to those observed in rodents. Injection of the GABAA agonist GABAzine in the RPa induced an increase in heart rate (from 99 to 174 bpm), systolic (from 87 to 170 mm Hg) and diastolic (from 51 to 98 mm Hg) arterial pressure, and end-tidal CO2 (from 49 to 62 mm Hg). All these changes were reversed by the injection in the same area of the GABAA agonist muscimol. These results support the possibility for RPa neurons to be a key target in the research for a safe and effective procedure for the induction of synthetic torpor in humans.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281-285
Number of pages5
JournalClinical and Experimental Pharmacology and Physiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • autonomic nervous system
  • gabazine
  • hypothermia
  • pig
  • Raphe Pallidus
  • synthetic torpor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Physiology (medical)


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