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Human corticotropin-releasing factor (hCRF) is a potent respiratory analeptic

Physiological and clinical aspects

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During intravenous corticotropin-releasing factor stimulation tests we observed a deepening of the tidal volume in 35 patients. To investigate this presumed respiratory stimulation we measured respiratory parameters in 12 healthy male volunteers in a single-blind placebo-controlled trial. The intravenous 60-s infusion of 100 µg of human corticotropin-releasing factor induced a very potent respiratory stimulation in every subject: respiratory minute volume (mean ± S.D.) increased by 81% from 6.319±0.577 to 11.464±1.264 liters per min (P<0.001), whereas there was only a slight rise in the mean respiratory rate from 12.4±3.0 to 14.7±2.7 breaths per min (P<0.001). Mean tidal volume increased from 531±105 to 809±175 ml (P<0.001). Mean end-tidal partial pressure of carbon dioxide decreased (P<0.001) from 40.3±1.2 to 33.4±1.2 mmHg, whereas mean end-tidal partial pressure of oxygen increased (P<0.001) from 93.2±5.4 to 113.5±5.4 mmHg. After 10 to 20 min both end-tidal carbon dioxide and oxygen partial pressures returned to the baseline values. The placebo had no measurable effects.

We conclude that human corticotropin-releasing factor is a potent respiratory stimulant. With 100 µg the resting respiratory minute volume increases by 81%. These data point to the possible importance of the corticotropin-releasing factor as a useful adjunct in the management of patients with alveolar hypoventilation.

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human corticotropin-releasing factor


end-tidal partial pressure of carbon dioxide (the last portion of the VT during expiration, called end-tidal volume, contains CO2 from the alveolar region)


end-tidal partial pressure of oxygen

\(\dot V_E \) :

minute volume

VT :

respiratory tidal volume


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Oppermann, D., Huber, I., Nink, M. et al. Human corticotropin-releasing factor (hCRF) is a potent respiratory analeptic. Klin Wochenschr 64, 924–928 (1986). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01728617

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Key words

  • Human corticotropin-releasing factor (hCRF)
  • Biological activity
  • Respiratory analeptic
  • Human beings
  • Hyperventilation