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Respir Physiol Neurobiol. 2011 Sep 30;178(3):362-9. doi: 10.1016/j.resp.2011.03.006. Epub 2011 Mar 17.

A chronic pain: inflammation-dependent chemoreceptor adaptation in rat carotid body.

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Department of Physiology, University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, UT 84108-6500, USA.


Experiments in recent years have revealed labile electrophysiological and neurochemical phenotypes in primary afferent neurons exposed to specific stimulus conditions associated with the development of chronic pain. These studies collectively demonstrate that the mechanisms responsible for functional plasticity are primarily mediated by novel neuroimmune interactions involving circulating and resident immune cells and their secretory products, which together induce hyperexcitability in the primary sensory neurons. In another peripheral sensory modality, namely the arterial chemoreceptors, sustained stimulation in the form of chronic hypoxia (CH) elicits increased chemoafferent excitability from the mammalian carotid body. Previous studies which focused on functional changes in oxygen-sensitive type I cells in this organ have only partially elucidated the molecular and cellular mechanisms which initiate and control this adaptive response. Recent studies in our laboratory indicate a unique role for the immune system in regulating the chemo-adaptive response of the carotid body to physiologically relevant levels of hypoxia.

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