Multi-Level Regulation of Opioid-Induced Respiratory Depression

Physiology (Bethesda). 2020 Nov 1;35(6):391-404. doi: 10.1152/physiol.00015.2020.


Opioids depress minute ventilation primarily by reducing respiratory rate. This results from direct effects on the preBötzinger Complex as well as from depression of the Parabrachial/Kölliker-Fuse Complex, which provides excitatory drive to preBötzinger Complex neurons mediating respiratory phase-switch. Opioids also depress awake drive from the forebrain and chemodrive.

Keywords: Parabrachial Nucleus/Kölliker-Fuse Complex; awake drive; chemodrive; opioids; preBötzinger Complex.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid / adverse effects*
  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Neurons / drug effects*
  • Neurons / pathology*
  • Respiratory Center / drug effects*
  • Respiratory Center / pathology*
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / chemically induced*
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / pathology*


  • Analgesics, Opioid