IMR Press / JIN / Volume 20 / Issue 4 / DOI: 10.31083/j.jin2004085
Open Access Original Research
Piezo2—peripheral baroreceptor channel expressed in select neurons of the mouse brain: a putative mechanism for synchronizing neural networks by transducing intracranial pressure pulses
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1 Department of Neuroscience, Cell Biology and Anatomy, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX 77555, USA
*Correspondence: (Owen P. Hamill)
J. Integr. Neurosci. 2021, 20(4), 825–837;
Submitted: 9 September 2021 | Revised: 28 October 2021 | Accepted: 28 October 2021 | Published: 30 December 2021
Copyright: © 2021 The Author(s). Published by IMR Press.
This is an open access article under the CC BY 4.0 license (

Here we use immunohistochemistry to examine the expression of Piezo2 in neurons of the mouse dorsal root ganglia and brain. Whereas Piezo2 is expressed in the large majority ( 90%) of dorsal root ganglia neurons, Piezo2 expression is restricted to select neuron types in specific brain regions, including neocortical and hippocampal pyramidal neurons, cerebellar Purkinje cells and mitral cells of the olfactory bulb. Given the well-established role of Piezo2 as a low-threshold pressure sensor (i.e., 5 mmHg) in peripheral mechanosensation, including the regulation of breathing and blood pressure, its expression in central neurons has interesting implications. In particular, we hypothesize that Piezo2 provides neurons with an intrinsic resonance that promotes their entrainment by the normal intracranial pressure pulses (~5 mmHg) associated with breathing and cardiac cycles. The pressure-induced change in neural activity need only be very subtle to increase, for example, the robustness of respiration-entrained oscillations reported previously in widely distributed neuronal networks in both rodent and human brains. This idea of a “global brain rhythm” first arose from the effect of nasal airflow in activating mechanosensitive olfactory sensory neurons, which then synaptically entrain mitral cells within the olfactory bulb and through their projections, neural networks in other brain regions, including the hippocampus and neocortex. Our proposed, non-synaptic, intrinsic mechanism, where Piezo2 tracks the highly predictable and “metronome-like” intracranial pressure pulses—to date generally considered epiphenomena—would have the advantage that a physical force rapidly transmitted throughout the brain also contributes to this synchronization.

Intracranial pressure
Purkinje cells
Mitral cells
Olfactory bulb
Neural network entrainment
Global brain clock
Fig. 1.
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