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Afferent vagal C fibre innervation of the lungs and airways and its functional significance

  • John C. G. Coleridge
  • Hazel M. Coleridge
Chapter
Part of the Reviews of Physiology, Biochemistry and Pharmacology book series (volume 99)

Abstract

We have attempted in this review to give an account of an afferent vagal input from the lower respiratory tract that has still to be explored fully, and to present experimental evidence that this fine fibre afferent system plays a significant role in the neural control of respiratory function in both normal and pathological circumstances.

We have made a distinction between the afferent C fibres that innervate the lung parenchyma adjacent to the pulmonary capillary bed and those that innervate the conducting airways, even though the afferent C fibres in the two locations appear to have reflex properties that are at least qualitatively similar. We believe that the functional significance of these lower respiratory tract C fibres is determined not simply by their location but also by certain differences in afferent properties that should not be overlooked.

Douglas and Ritchie (1962) suggested, in their review of mammalian non-myelinated nerve fibres, that the teleological advantage of the finefibre afferent system, especially in the case of a visceral input where speed of impulse transmission was not of primary importance, was that it allows fibres of a variety of sensory modalities to be accommodated in a small cross-sectional area of nerve trunk. There is no reason to think that the full range of sensory modalities of the afferent C fibres in the lungs and airways has yet been explored. The custom of injecting certain chemicals to identify the presence of lower respiratory tract C fibres when recording the activity in vagal strands is highly selective, so that even now our view of this afferent fibre system may be unnecessarily narrow.

Some of the conclusions arrived at in these pages are either purely speculative or derived from experimental evidence that is at best indirect. Whether they prove to be correct or incorrect — and some are sure to fall into the latter category — their purpose will have been served if they are put to the test of experiment.

Keywords

Vagus Nerve Lower Respiratory Tract Airway Smooth Muscle Bronchial Artery Lung Inflation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • John C. G. Coleridge
    • 1
  • Hazel M. Coleridge
    • 1
  1. 1.Cardiovascular Research Institute and Department of PhysiologyUniversity of California San FranciscoSan FranciscoUSA

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