Hans Loeschcke, Robert Mitchell and the medullary CO2 chemoreceptors: a brief historical review

Respir Physiol. 1998 Oct;114(1):17-24. doi: 10.1016/s0034-5687(98)00075-9.


In the late 1950s, stimulated by reports from Leusen in Belgium and Winterstein in Germany on ventilatory responses to spinal fluid acid, Hans Loeschcke from Göttingen, and Robert Mitchell of the University of California in San Francisco were independently seeking the site of respiratory chemosensitivity to CO2 which they presumed to be mediated by cerebro-spinal fluid hydrogen ions. In 1960 Loeschcke came to San Francisco to join Mitchell for 3 months of intensive hunting for the site of action. This essay describes the events surrounding the localization of ventral medullary superficial (VMS) chemosensitivity to topical acidification, and some of their subsequent and largely independent work on the location, nature and function of this structure. The discovery led to a vast literature on all aspects of the regulation of respiration.

Publication types

  • Biography
  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Carbon Dioxide / physiology*
  • Chemoreceptor Cells / physiology*
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Medulla Oblongata / physiology*
  • Respiration*


  • Carbon Dioxide

Personal name as subject

  • H Loeschcke
  • R Mitchell