Send to

Choose Destination
Compr Physiol. 2012 Jan;2(1):479-535. doi: 10.1002/cphy.c110023.

Neural control of the upper airway: integrative physiological mechanisms and relevance for sleep disordered breathing.

Author information

Department of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada.


The various neural mechanisms affecting the control of the upper airway muscles are discussed in this review, with particular emphasis on structure-function relationships and integrative physiological motor-control processes. Particular foci of attention include the respiratory function of the upper airway muscles, and the various reflex mechanisms underlying their control, specifically the reflex responses to changes in airway pressure, reflexes from pulmonary receptors, chemoreceptor and baroreceptor reflexes, and postural effects on upper airway motor control. This article also addresses the determinants of upper airway collapsibility and the influence of neural drive to the upper airway muscles, and the influence of common drugs such as ethanol, sedative hypnotics, and opioids on upper airway motor control. In addition to an examination of these basic physiological mechanisms, consideration is given throughout this review as to how these mechanisms relate to integrative function in the intact normal upper airway in wakefulness and sleep, and how they may be involved in the pathogenesis of clinical problems such obstructive sleep apnea hypopnea.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center