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Physiol Genomics. 2018 Mar 1;50(3):208-214. doi: 10.1152/physiolgenomics.00121.2017. Epub 2018 Jan 26.

Carotid body: a metabolic sensor implicated in insulin resistance.

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CEDOC, NOVA Medical School, Faculdade de Ciências, Universidade NOVA de Lisboa , Lisbon , Portugal.
School of Health Sciences, Polytechnic Institute of Leiria , Leiria , Portugal.


The carotid body is now looked at as a multipurpose sensor for blood gases, blood pH, and several hormones. The matter of glucose sensing by the carotid body has been debated for several years in the literature, and these days there is a consensus that carotid body activity is modified by metabolic factors that contribute to glucose homeostasis. However, the sensing ability for glucose is still being pondered: are the carotid bodies low glucose sensors or, in contrast, are they overresponsive in high-glucose conditions? Herein, we debate the glucose and insulin sensing capabilities of the carotid body as key early events in the overactivation of the carotid body, which is increasingly recognized as an important feature of metabolic diseases. Additionally, we dedicate a final section to discuss new outside-the-box therapies designed to decrease carotid body activity that may be used for treating metabolic diseases.


Type 2 diabetes; carotid body; carotid sinus nerve; glucose; insulin

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