Arterial chemoreceptor input to respiratory hypoglossal motoneurons

S. W. Mifflin

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9 Scopus citations


To better understand the role of the arterial chemoreceptors in the regulation of upper airway patency at the level of the oropharynx, intracellular recordings were obtained from inspiratory hypoglossal motoneurons (IHMs), and the responses to selective activation of the carotid body chemoreceptors were examined. In pentobarbital-anesthetized, vagotomized, paralyzed, and artificially ventilated cats, chemoreceptor activation enhanced the inspiratory depolarization of membrane potential in 32 of 36 IHMs. This was manifested as an increase in either the amplitude (n = 13) or duration (n = 3) or an increase in both amplitude and duration (n = 16) of the inspiratory membrane potential depolarization. The amplitude and duration of the inspiratory membrane potential depolarization increased 98 ± 15% (n = 29) and 78 ± 13% (n = 19), respectively. Similar patterns of enhanced activity (increased duration and/or amplitude of membrane depolarization) were observed in five expiratory hypoglossal motoneurons (EHMs) after chemoreceptor activation. In 16 of the 32 IHMs, chemoreceptor activation also evoked changes in IHM membrane potential during expiration: enhanced postinspiratory discharge (n = 6), expiratory depolarization/discharge (n = 6), and tonic depolarization/discharge, which persisted for several respiratory cycles (n = 4). The arterial chemoreceptors provide a powerful excitatory input to IHMs during both inspiration and expiration. This excitatory drive to IHMs and EHMs will aid in the maintenance of upper airway patency throughout the respiratory cycle during increases in end-tidal CO2.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)700-709
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1990


  • cat
  • neural control of breathing
  • phrenic nerve
  • regulation of respiration
  • upper airways


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