Assistant Professor, Department of Human Physiology
Ph.D. University of Alberta
B.Sc. University of British Columbia
Overview: Research in the Huxtable laboratory focuses on the neural control of breathing (the central brainstem and spinal cord networks), with a specific focus on how inflammation (throughout the body and/or brain) undermines breathing. Breathing is a “simple”, rhythmic motor behaviour essential to maintaining life and homeostasis of blood gases (oxygen and carbon dioxide). The respiratory system begins generating episodic breathing rhythms in the womb and more regular rhythms abruptly at birth to begin exchange of blood gases, where it remains active until death. Despite the necessary robustness of the system, it is not a hardwired, immutable system even in adulthood. The respiratory system must be plastic (learn from previous experiences) and adapt to changes in state (sleep, wake), activity, aging, and disease or injury. The goal of Huxtable laboratory is to understand how the unstable respiratory network of premature or newborn infants are affected by inflammation, which commonly occurs with illness, infection, injury, and during the normal birthing process. Additionally, Dr. Huxtable’s research has shown a vulnerability of respiratory plasticity (a long-term change in respiratory motor output) in adults to inflammation. The current focus of the lab now is on whether inflammation during the perinatal period alters long-term respiratory network function and motor plasticity into adulthood. Research in the Huxtable laboratory combines concepts from neuroscience, respiratory physiology, and the immune system to answer basic science questions.
Dr. Huxtable currently has undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral positions open in her laboratory and is happy to discuss research opportunities with interested trainees.
Impact of inflammation on developing respiratory control networks: rhythm generation, chemoreception and plasticity.
Respir Physiol Neurobiol. 2019 Dec 30;:103357
Authors: Beyeler SA, Hodges MR, Huxtable AG
The respiratory control network in the central nervous system undergoes critical developmental events early in life to ensure adequate breathing at birth. There are at least three "critical windows" in development of respiratory control networks: 1) in utero, 2) newborn (postnatal day 0-4 in rodents), and 3) neonatal (P10-13 in rodents, 2-4 months in humans). During these critical windows, developmental processes required for normal maturation of the respiratory control network occur, thereby increasing vulnerability of the network to insults, such as inflammation. Early life inflammation (induced by LPS, chronic intermittent hypoxia, sustained hypoxia, or neonatal maternal separation) acutely impairs respiratory rhythm generation, chemoreception and increases neonatal risk of mortality. These early life impairments are also greater in young males, suggesting sex-specific impairments in respiratory control. Further, neonatal inflammation has a lasting impact on respiratory control by impairing adult respiratory plasticity. This review focuses on how inflammation alters respiratory rhythm generation, chemoreception and plasticity during each of the three critical windows. We also highlight the need for additional mechanistic studies and increased investigation into how glia (such as microglia and astrocytes) play a role in impaired respiratory control after inflammation. Understanding how inflammation during critical windows of development disrupt respiratory control networks is essential for developing better treatments for vulnerable neonates and preventing adult ventilatory control disorders.
PMID: 31899353 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]