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Cell Mol Life Sci. 2014 Mar;71(5):831-45. doi: 10.1007/s00018-013-1470-6. Epub 2013 Sep 18.

Carbon dioxide-sensing in organisms and its implications for human disease.

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School of Medicine and Medical Science, UCD Conway Institute, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland.


The capacity of organisms to sense changes in the levels of internal and external gases and to respond accordingly is central to a range of physiologic and pathophysiologic processes. Carbon dioxide, a primary product of oxidative metabolism is one such gas that can be sensed by both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells and in response to altered levels, elicit the activation of multiple adaptive pathways. The outcomes of activating CO2-sensitive pathways in various species include increased virulence of fungal and bacterial pathogens, prey-seeking behavior in insects as well as taste perception, lung function, and the control of immunity in mammals. In this review, we discuss what is known about the mechanisms underpinning CO2 sensing across a range of species and consider the implications of this for physiology, disease progression, and the possibility of developing new therapeutics for inflammatory and infectious disease.

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