This mini review highlights recent research on the control of breathing that places gliotransmission and purinergic signaling as core drivers to the respiratory circuits in the brainstem. These elements underpin transduction of hypercapnia, hypoxia and acid sensing at central and peripheral chemoreceptors. The processes involve propagation of an extracellular ATP signal and associated P2 receptor activation, where ATP acts on both the glial cells and the associated output cells in the sensor complex - the respiratory rhythm generator neurons and the ventral inspiratory pre-motor neurons. At the peripheral carotid chemoreceptor, the hypoxia sensor likely involves the gasotransmitter H(2)S, complemented by purinergic neurotransmission.
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