Intrapulmonary Carbon Dioxide Sensitive Receptors: Amphibians to Mammals

  • M. R. Fedde
  • W. D. Kuhlmann
Part of the Proceedings in Life Sciences book series (LIFE SCIENCES)


Direct neural recordings have been made from intrapulmonary CO2-sensitive receptors in all classes of tetrapods. Specific characteristics of these receptors, such as their relative sensitivity to chemical (CO2, O2, and several drugs) and mechanical stimuli, the responsiveness to static and dynamic CO2 concentrations in their microenvironment, their location in the lung, and the influence of intracellular H+ in controlling their discharge have been studied in detail in some animals.

Amphibian lungs, as exemplified by the bullfrog, possess both rapidly and slowly adapting CO2-sensitive mechanoreceptors, but no receptors whose sole physiological stimulus is CO2 concentration. Reptilian lungs, at least in turtles and Tegu lizards, possess CO2-sensitive mechanoreceptors as well as receptors strikingly sensitive to CO2 but not to stretch of the lung. The CO2 receptors respond to static concentration of CO2 in the lungs as well as to rapid changes in intrapulmonary CO2 concentration. Avian lungs apparently possess only CO2 receptors without mechanical sensitivity. Mammalian lungs seemingly have only CO2-sensitive mechanoreceptors (slowly adapting pulmonary stretch receptors).

In all vertebrate classes studied, the discharge from both CO2 receptors and CO2-sensitive mechanoreceptors inhibits respiratory neuronal output from the brain. Intensive investigations in many laboratories are currently in progress to determine the importance of these receptors in controlling breathing.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. R. Fedde
    • 1
  • W. D. Kuhlmann
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Anatomy and physiologyKansas State UniversityManhattanUSA

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