Neural Networks involved in Sympathetic Motor Control: Central and peripheral aspects

Michael P. Gilbey, PhD
Professor of Integrative Neuroscience
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7679 3211

Michael Gilbey graduated with a BSc in Physiology (1976). He was awarded a PhD from the University of Birmingham (1980). During his postdoctoral studies at Birmingham and Johns Hopkins University he examined the integrative functions of sympathetic preganglionic motoneurones (SPNs) and published the first papers documenting their characteristics and supraspinal control in a rat model. In 1984, following a move to the Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine, he obtained an MRC grant to study the respiratory-related activity of SPNs. He was a visiting research associate in Prof JL Feldman’s lab at UCLA (1990-91, NIH-funded) where a brainstem spinal cord preparation (neonatal rat in vitro) was being used to study respiratory control. Subsequently, Dr Deuchars developed a preparation in his laboratory to study the bulbospinal control of SPNs using a whole cell patch clamp technique. In 1993, with the assistance of Chris Johnson he developed a focal recording technique to examine the activity of sympathetic neurones innervating identified blood vessels. This technique provides a “new window” to increase our understanding of the nervous control of blood vessels and has therefore underpinned seminal contributions. These studies were funded by grants received from the MRC, BHF and Wellcome Trust. In 1999 he was appointed Reader in Physiology at UCL and in 2005 promoted to Professor of Integrative Neuroscience. He was a senior editor of The Journal of Physiology and is an associate editor of Autonomic Neuroscience.

For an animal to thrive, it must generate appropriate somatic, neuroendocrine and autonomic responses to environmental and internal challenges. These responses are orchestrated by the nervous system and may involve dynamic interactions of rhythmically discharging neuronal networks. My laboratory seeks to reveal some of the processes producing the various patterns of sympathetic activity that influence cardiovascular functions in health and disease. Our recent studies support the hypothesis that neural networks in the spinal cord may be relevant to sympathetic pattern generation and the synchronization of sympathetic discharges. The pattern and synchronization of nervous discharges are probably significant parameters in the nervous control of cardiac and vascular functions. Current research interests are focussed on how proinflammatory states may influence CNS control of sympathetic activity.

Full publication list with PDFs

Selected publications:

  • Gilbey, M.P. (2007) Sympathetic rhythms and nervous integration. Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol. 34, 356-61.
  • Gilbey, M.P., Huang C (2006) Possible involvement of central prostaglandins in elevated muscle vasoconstrictor activity associated with systemic inflammatory states Proc Physiol Soc 3 PC68
  • Marina, N, Taheri, M & Gilbey, MP (2006) Generation of a physiologic sympathetic motor rhythm in the rat following spinal application of 5-HT. Journal of Physiology 571, 441-450
  • Huang C, Gilbey MP (2005) A comparison of simultaneously recorded muscle and skin vasoconstrictor activities in the rat using frequency domain analysis. Autonomic Neuroscience, 121, 47-55
  • Korsak A, Gilbey, MP (2004) Rostral Ventromedial Medulla and the Control of Cutaneous Vasoconstrictor Activity following ICV Prostaglandin E1 Neuroscience, 124, 709-717.
  • Gilbey, M.P. (2001) Oscillators, Dynamic Synchronisation and Sympathetic Control. Clin. Exp. Pharmacol. Physiol. 28, 130-137
  • Staras, K., Chang, H-S & Gilbey, M.P. (2001) Reset of sympathetic rhythm by somatic afferents causes post-reflex coordination of sympathetic activity in rat. Journal of Physiology, 533, 537-545.
  • Chang, H-S, Staras, K & Gilbey, M.P (2000) Multiple oscillators provide metastability in rhythm generation. Journal of Neuroscience, 20, 5135-5143.
  • Chang, H-S., Staras, K., Smith, J.E. & Gilbey, M.P. (1999) Sympathetic neuronal oscillators are capable of dynamic synchronisation. Journal of Neuroscience, 19, 3183-3197.