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Respir Physiol Neurobiol. 2010 Oct 31;173(3):195-200. doi: 10.1016/j.resp.2010.05.022. Epub 2010 Jun 2.

The phylogeny of central chemoreception.

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Department of Zoology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada.


Respiratory chemoreceptors responsive to changes in CO(2)/H(+) appear to be present in all vertebrates from fish to birds and mammals. They appear to have arisen first in the periphery sensitive to the external environment. Thus, in most fish CO(2)/H(+) chemoreceptors reside primarily in the gills and respond to changes in aquatic rather than arterial P(CO)₂ . In the air-breathing tetrapods (amphibians, mammals, reptiles and birds), the branchial arches regress developmentally and the derivatives of the branchial arteries are now exclusively internal. The receptors associated with these arteries now sense only arterial (not environmental) P(CO)₂/pH . Central CO(2)/H(+) chemoreception also appears to have arisen with the advent of air breathing, presumably as a second line of defense. These receptors may have arisen multiple times in association with several (but not all) of the independent origins of air breathing in fishes. There is strong evidence for multiple central sites of CO(2)/H(+) sensing, at least in amphibians and mammals, suggesting that it may not only have originated multiple times in different species but also multiple times within a single species.

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