Central chemoreceptors

Central Chemoreceptors

Central chemoreceptors

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Central chemoreceptors of the central nervous system, located on the ventrolateral medullary surface, are sensitive to the pH of their environment.

These act to detect the changes in pH of nearby cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) that are indicative of altered oxygen or carbon dioxide concentrations available to brain tissues. An increase in carbon dioxide tension of the arteries, often resulting from increased CO<sub>2</sub> intake (hypercapnea), indirectly causes the blood to become more acidic; the cerebral spinal fluid pH is closely comparable to the plasma, as carbon dioxide easily diffuses across the blood/brain barrier.

However, a change in plasma pH alone will not stimulate central chemoreceptors as H+ are not be able to diffuse across the blood-brain barrier into the CSF. Only CO<sub>2</sub> levels affect this as it can diffuse across, reacting with H<sub>2</sub>O to form carbonic acid and thus decrease pH. Central chemoreception remains, in this way, distinct from peripheral chemoreceptors.

The central chemoreception system has also been shown experimentally to respond to hypercapnic hypoxia (elevated CO<sub>2</sub>, decreased O<sub>2</sub>) and aqueous sodium cyanide injection into the whole animal Solomon IC, Edelman NH, Neubauer, JA. Pre-Bötzinger complex functions as a central hypoxia chemosensor for respiration in vivo. J Neurophysiol. 83(5):2854-68, 2000. and in vitro slice...
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