Important role of carotid chemoreceptor afferents in control of breathing of adult and neonatal mammals

Respir Physiol. 2000 Feb;119(2-3):199-208. doi: 10.1016/s0034-5687(99)00115-2.


This review provides a summary and prospective on the importance of carotid/peripheral chemoreceptors to the control of breathing during physiologic conditions. For several days after carotid body denervation (CBD), adult mammals hypoventilate (+10 mmHg increase in Pa(CO(2))) at rest and during exercise and CO(2) sensitivity is attenuated by about 60%. In addition, if the rostral ventrolateral medulla is cooled during NREM sleep after CBD, a sustained apnea is observed. Eventually, days or weeks after CBD, a peripheral ventilatory chemoreflex redevelops and there is a normalization of breathing (rest and exercise) and CO(2) sensitivity. The site (s) of the regained chemosensitivity has not been established. This plasticity/redundancy after CBD appears greater in neonates than in adult mammals. These data suggest the carotid and other peripheral chemoreceptors provide an important excitatory input to medullary respiratory neurons that is essential for breathing when wakeful stimuli and central chemoreceptors are absent.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn / physiology*
  • Carotid Body / physiology*
  • Chemoreceptor Cells / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Neurons, Afferent / physiology*
  • Respiratory Mechanics / physiology*