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The acute hypercapnic ventilatory response (AHCVR) arises from both peripheral and central chemoreflexes. In humans, one technique for identifying the separate contributions of these chemoreflexes to AHCVR has been to associate the rapid component of AHCVR with the peripheral chemoreflex and the slow component with the central chemoreflex. Our first aim was to validate this technique further by determining whether a single slow component was sufficient to describe AHCVR in patients with bilateral carotid body resections (BR) for glomus cell tumours. Our second aim was to determine whether the slow component of AHCVR was diminished following carotid body resection as has been suggested by studies in experimental animals. Seven BR subjects were studied together with seven subjects with unilateral resections (UR) and seven healthy controls. A multifrequency binary sequence in end-tidal PCO2 was employed to stimulate ventilation dynamically under conditions of both euoxia and mild hypoxia. Both two- and one-compartment models of AHCVR were fitted to the data. For BR subjects, the two-compartment model fitted significantly better on 1 out of 13 occasions compared with 22 out of 28 occasions for the other subjects. Average values for the chemoreflex sensitivity of the slow component of AHCVR differed significantly (P < 0.05) between the groups and were 0.95, 1.38 and 1.50 l min-1 Torr-1 for BR, UR and control subjects, respectively. We conclude that, without the peripheral chemoreflex, AHCVR is adequately described by a single slow component and that BR subjects have sensitivities for the slow component that are lower than those of control subjects.

Original publication




Journal article


J Physiol

Publication Date





965 - 973


Adult, Algorithms, Carbon Dioxide, Carotid Body, Central Nervous System, Chemoreceptor Cells, Denervation, Female, Functional Laterality, Humans, Hypercapnia, Hypoxia, Male, Models, Biological, Peripheral Nervous System, Respiratory Mechanics