Pulmonary chemoreflexes elicited by intravenous injection of lactic acid in anesthetized rats

Lu Yuan Lee, Robert F. Morton, Jan M. Lundberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Experiments were carried out to characterize the cardiorespiratory reflex responses to intravenous injection of lactic acid and to determine the involvement of vagal bronchopulmonary C-fiber afferents in eliciting these responses in anesthetized rats. Bolus injection of lactic acid (0.2 mmol/kg iv) immediately elicited apnea, bradycardia, and hypotension, which were then followed by a sustained hyperpnea. The immediate apneic and bradycardiac responses to lactic acid were completely abolished by bilateral vagotomy and were absent when the same dose of lactic acid was injected into the left ventricle. The subsequent hyperpneic response was substantially attenuated by denervation of carotid body chemoreceptors. After a perineural capsaicin treatment of both vagus nerves to block the conduction of C fibers, lactic acid no longer evoked the immediate apnea and bradycardia, whereas the hyperpneic response became more pronounced and sustained, presumably because of the removal of the inhibitory effect on breathing mediated by pulmonary C-fiber activation. Single-unit electrophysiological recording showed that intravenous injection of lactic acid consistently evoked an abrupt and intense burst of discharge from the vagal C-fiber afferent endings in the lungs. In conclusion, the cardiorespiratory depressor responses induced by lactic acid are predominantly elicited by activation of vagal pulmonary C fibers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2349-2357
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1996


  • apnea
  • capsaicin
  • hyperpnea
  • perineural capsaicin treatment
  • pulmonary C fibers
  • vagal reflexes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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