Acute effect of cigarette smoke on laryngeal receptors

L. Y. Lee, F. B. Sant'Ambrogio, O. P. Mathew, G. Sant'Ambrogio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Upper airway exposure to cigarette smoke elicits reflex changes in breathing pattern. To examine whether laryngeal afferents are affected by cigarette smoke, neural activity was recorded from the peripheral cut end of superior laryngeal nerve in anesthetized dogs. A box-balloon system, connected to the breathing circuit, allowed smoke to be inhaled spontaneously through the isolated upper airway while preserving its normal respiratory flow and pressure. Our results showed the following. 1) Inhalation of cigarette smoke (25-50% concentration, 300-400 ml) caused a marked increase in activity of laryngeal irritant receptors which were either silent or randomly discharging during control breathing [their activity increased from a control value of 1.67 ± 0.50 (mean ± SD; n = 21) to a peak of 5.03 ± 0.85 impulses/s in 11-15 s]. 2) The activity of laryngeal cold receptors was reduced to 77.3 and 63.8% of control (n = 9) during the two breaths of smoke inhalation, respectively. After returning toward the base-line activity, a more pronounced inhibition (26.3% of control) occurred at three to nine breaths after the smoke inhalation. 3) A small but significant decrease (88.5% of control) in the respiratory discharge of laryngeal mechanoreceptors was observed during the first test breath. These effects were independent of the CO2 content of the smoke. Furthermore, there was no difference between the responses of these laryngeal afferents to high- and low-nicotine cigarette smoke.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1575-1581
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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