Structure of Airway Smooth Muscle and Its Innervation

  • Giorgio Gabella


The musculature of the trachea and bronchi is well supplied with nerves; its activity is under myogenic control as well as under nervous and hormonal control. The main source of afferent fibers to trachea and bronchi are nerve cells in the nodose ganglion whose axons reach the trachea through the recurrent laryngeal nerve; whether there are also some afferent fibers from dorsal root ganglia remains to be proved—a possibility suggested by Dalsgaard and Lundberg (1984). The vagal (afferent) fibers represent the largest nerve supply to the bronchial and tracheal muscles of the mouse, as judged by the extent of the loss of intramuscular nerve endings after vagotomy (Pack et al., 1984). The main source of efferent fibers are ganglion cells in the tracheal and bronchial ganglia (see Chapter this volume) and possibly in some other of the many ganglia associated with mediastinal organs. These neurons are driven (exclusively?) by vagal preganglionic nerve fibers and are part of the parasympathetic outflow; they include excitatory and inhibitory neurons. In the ferret, axons projecting from these neurons to the tracheal muscle have been traced after intracellular injection of horseradish peroxidase (HRP) (Kalia et al., 1983). Efferent vagal fibers are preganglionic and do not reach the musculature, but they all end within the ganglia. There are on average 235 neurons in the ganglionated plexus of the trachga of the mouse (Chiang and Gabella, 1986), but there can be as many as 4000 neurons in the ferret (Baker et al., 1986).


Airway Smooth Muscle Vasoactive Intestinal Polypeptide Nerve Bundle Stellate Ganglion Tracheal Smooth Muscle 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Giorgio Gabella
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnatomyUniversity College, LondonLondonEngland

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