Lung reflexes in rabbits during pulmonary stretch receptor block by sulphur dioxide

Respir Physiol. 1978 Jul;34(1):83-101. doi: 10.1016/0034-5687(78)90050-6.


Anaesthetized rabbits were given 200 ppm sulphur dioxide to breathe for 10 min. This abolished activity in 23 of 26 pulmonary stretch receptors, while leaving that of lung irritant receptors unimpaired. The Breuer-Hering reflex was abolished and breathing became deeper and slower. Inspiratory time (tI) was increased and expiratory time (tE) decreased. Subsequent vagotomy increased tidal volume (VT), tI and tE. In animals with stretch receptors blocked, injections of phenyl diguanide and histamine still increased breathing frequency and decreased VT, indicating that reflexes from lung irritant and J-receptors were intact. Inhalation of 8% CO2 caused a bigger increase in frequency and tidal volume in rabbits with stretch receptor block compared with controls or those after vagotomy. Induction of pneumothorax with stretch receptor block transiently prolonged tI and shortened tE; removal of the pneumothorax also transiently shortened tE and usually also decreased tI. The results suggest that lung irritant receptors reflexly shorten tE in all our experimental conditions, but have various effects on tI which may depend on the timing of the irritant receptor discharge and refractoriness of the inspiratory response.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Lung / physiology*
  • Mechanoreceptors / physiology*
  • Pulmonary Stretch Receptors / physiology*
  • Rabbits
  • Reflex / physiology*
  • Respiration
  • Sulfur Dioxide / pharmacology*
  • Tidal Volume
  • Vagus Nerve / physiology


  • Sulfur Dioxide
  • Carbon Dioxide