Airway receptors

Respir Physiol. 2001 Mar;125(1-2):3-15. doi: 10.1016/s0034-5687(00)00201-2.


There are many types of afferent receptor in the airways; at least five in the larynx: pressure, drive, cold, irritant and C-fibre; and at least four in the trachea and bronchi: slowly and rapidly adapting stretch receptors (SARs and RARs), C-fibre receptors, and those in neuroepithelial bodies (NEBs). Histologically enough sensory structures have been identified to account for the various patterns of afferent activity, but most correlations are poor. For the larynx, four or more sensory structures have not definitively been identified with afferent discharges and reflex responses. For the trachea and bronchi, only SARs have been clearly identified morphologically and physiologically. The reflexes and afferent discharges from RARs and C-fibre receptors are fairly clear, some at least of the sensory terminals lie in the epithelium, but receptor complexes have not been mapped out. Nerves in NEBs have been identified, but not their local and central reflex actions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chemoreceptor Cells / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Larynx / physiology
  • Mechanoreceptors / physiology*
  • Pulmonary Stretch Receptors / physiology
  • Respiratory Physiological Phenomena*