Afferent Activity and Reflex Effects Evoked from the Tracheobronchial Tree

  • Giuseppe Sant’Ambrogio
Part of the Ettore Majorana International Science Series book series (EMISS, volume 6)


There are obvious alterations in the rate and depth of breathing and in the capability of reacting to noxious stimuli, as for example in coughing, when the vagal afferent activity originating from the tracheo-bronchial tree is blocked. This block can be accomplished by local anesthetization of the lumen of the airways with involvement of several and possibly all types of nervous endings (1, 2), by sulphur dioxide inhalation, which presumably paralyzes only the slowly adapting stretch receptors (3). The changes in the pattern of breathing introduced by these experimental procedures are similar to those observed with cervical vagotomy thus indicating that in this latter situation it is just the interruption of the afferent component which plays the major role in altering the respiratory pattern. There are several observations which indicate that the economy of respiratory functions suffers when the vagus nerves are sectioned. For example, it was shown that the work of breathing was consistently increased after vagotomy (4, 5). Another example of the respiratory impairment introduced by a block in the vagal conduction is the marked decrease of the ventilatory response to carbon dioxide (6). Changes in several respiratory parameters (as oxygen and carbon dioxide arterial concentrations, lung compliance and resistance, tidal vlume and breathing frequency) observed when an experimental pneumothorax was introduced were much greater after vagotomy (7) indicating that maintenance of normal respiratory values was more effectively accomplished with intact innervation.


Transmural Pressure Afferent Activity Stretch Receptor Nodose Ganglion Main Stem Bronchus 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Giuseppe Sant’Ambrogio
    • 1
  1. 1.Dept. of Physiology & BiophysicsUniversity of Texas Medical BranchGalvestonUSA

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