Whether central apnoea or hypopnoea can be induced by organophosphorus poisoning remains unknown to date. By using the acute brainstem slice method and multi-electrode array system, we established a paraoxon (a typical acetylcholinesterase inhibitor) poisoning model to investigate the time-dependent changes in respiratory burst amplitudes of the pre-Bötzinger complex (respiratory rhythm generator). We then determined whether pralidoxime or atropine, which are antidotes of paraoxon, could counteract the effects of paraoxon. Herein, we showed that paraoxon significantly decreased the respiratory burst amplitude of the pre-Bötzinger complex (p < 0.05). Moreover, pralidoxime and atropine could suppress the decrease in amplitude by paraoxon (p < 0.05). Paraoxon directly impaired the pre-Bötzinger complex, and the findings implied that this impairment caused central apnoea or hypopnoea. Pralidoxime and atropine could therapeutically attenuate the impairment. This study is the first to prove the usefulness of the multi-electrode array method for electrophysiological and toxicological studies in the mammalian brainstem.
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