The resting and reflex-evoked activities of single postganglionic sympathetic neurons with axons in the right thoracic vagus were tested in chloralose-anaesthetized cats. The properties of a majority of neurons were found to be similar. Cardiac- and inspiration-related rhythmicities were present in the resting activity of sympathetic neurons. Their resting activity was not affected by hyperventilation which abolished phrenic nerve discharges. Systemic hypoxia (2 min; 8% O2 in N2) increased the activity of the neurons more effectively in the deafferented state than when both sinus nerves remained intact. Injection of 0.1 ml 1 M sodium bicarbonate saturated with CO2, which activates peripheral chemoreceptors in the right or left carotid sinus, usually evoked a decrease in sympathetic activity in animals with both sinus nerves intact. We concluded that activation of peripheral chemoreceptors may inhibit the activity of the sympathetic neurons with axons in the right thoracic vagus. We suggest that the described sympathetic neurons may be a functionally homogeneous population which may innervate the conducting system of the heart. The close localization of sympathetic and parasympathetic axons in the vagus nerve may facilitate sympathetic-parasympathetic interaction at the level of their endings in the heart.
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