Subtypes of vagal afferent C-fibres in guinea-pig lungs

J Physiol. 2004 May 1;556(Pt 3):905-17. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2003.060079. Epub 2004 Feb 20.


An ex vivo, vagally innervated, lung preparation was used to address the hypothesis that vagal C-fibres comprise at least two distinct phenotypes. Histological and extracellular electrophysiological experiments revealed that vagal C-fibres innervating the pulmonary system are derived from cell bodies situated in two distinct vagal sensory ganglia. The jugular (superior) ganglion neurones project C-fibres to both the extrapulmonary airways (larynx, trachea and bronchus) and the lung parenchymal tissue. By contrast, C-fibres from nodose (inferior) neurones innervate primarily structures within the lungs. Histologically, nodose neurones projecting lung C-fibres were different from the jugular neurones in that they were significantly less likely to express neurokinins. The nerve terminals within the lungs of both nodose and jugular C-fibres responded with action potential discharge to capsaicin and bradykinin application, but only the nodose C-fibre population responded with action potential discharge to the P2X selective receptor agonist alpha,beta-methylene-ATP. Whole cell patch clamp recording of capsaicin-sensitive nodose and jugular ganglion neurones retrogradely labelled from the lung tissue revealed that, like the nerve terminals, lung specific nodose C-fibre neurones express functional P2X receptors, whereas lung specific jugular C-fibres do not. The data support the hypothesis that both neural crest-derived neurones (jugular ganglia) and placode-derived neurones (nodose ganglia) project C-fibres in the vagus, and that these two C-fibre populations represent distinct phenotypes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / drug effects
  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Adenosine Triphosphate / analogs & derivatives*
  • Adenosine Triphosphate / pharmacology
  • Afferent Pathways / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Bradykinin / pharmacology
  • Bronchi / innervation
  • Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptide / analysis
  • Capsaicin / pharmacology
  • Electrophysiology
  • Ganglia / chemistry
  • Ganglia / physiology
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Laryngeal Nerves / physiology
  • Lung / drug effects
  • Lung / innervation*
  • Lung / physiology
  • Male
  • Nerve Fibers, Unmyelinated / classification
  • Nerve Fibers, Unmyelinated / drug effects
  • Nerve Fibers, Unmyelinated / physiology*
  • Neurofilament Proteins / analysis
  • Nodose Ganglion / chemistry
  • Nodose Ganglion / physiology
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Physical Stimulation
  • Substance P / analysis
  • Trachea / innervation
  • Vagus Nerve / physiology*


  • Neurofilament Proteins
  • Substance P
  • Adenosine Triphosphate
  • Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptide
  • alpha,beta-methyleneadenosine 5'-triphosphate
  • Capsaicin
  • Bradykinin