The Functional Role and Central Connections of the Carotid Body of the Rat

  • J. D. Sinclair
  • G. D. Housley


As the major sensor of body hypoxia, the carotid body provides most of the neural input driving the important protective respiratory regulatory mechanisms producing hyperventilation. A knowledge of the general function of the carotid body and of how it influences the respiratory cycle represents the background against which neural, biophysical, and molecular studies must be placed. We have studied the function of the carotid body and the organization of its central connections in the rat, partly to seek answers to questions not yet resolved from studies in other species, and partly to provide a background for the increasing use of this animal in neurobiological studies of respiration. The rat provides a model with many typical features of mammalian respiration (1,2) and has practical advantages of economy and availability; its respiration can be measured in the awake state (3); while with the precision of modern neurophysiological techniques, its small size becomes less of a disadvantage.


Carotid Body Kainic Acid Ventilatory Response Nucleus Tractus Solitarius Carotid Sinus Nerve 
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© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. D. Sinclair
  • G. D. Housley

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