Development of respiratory control: evolving concepts and perspectives

Respir Physiol Neurobiol. 2005 Nov 15;149(1-3):3-15. doi: 10.1016/j.resp.2005.04.018. Epub 2005 Jun 6.


The mechanisms underlying respiratory system immaturity in newborns have been investigated, both in vivo and in vitro, in humans and in animals. Immaturity affects breathing rhythmicity and its modulation by suprapontine influences and by afferents from central and peripheral chemoreceptors. Recent research has moved from bedside tools to sophisticated technologies, bringing new insights into the plasticity and genetics of respiratory control development. Genetic research has benefited from investigations of newborn mice having targeted deletions of genes involved in respiratory control. Genetic variability may govern the normal programming of development and the processes underlying adaptation to homeostasis disturbances induced by prenatal and postnatal insults. Studies of plasticity have emphasized the role of neurotrophic factors. Improvements in our understanding of the mechanistic effects of these factors should lead to new neuroprotective strategies for infants at risk for early respiratory control disturbances, such as apnoeas of prematurity, sudden infant death syndrome and congenital central hypoventilation syndrome.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Respiratory Center / growth & development*
  • Respiratory Physiological Phenomena*
  • Respiratory System / growth & development*