Arterial baroreceptors are known to influence airway smooth muscle tone. Thus, increasing carotid sinus pressure from 20 to 200 mm Hg causes reflex tracheal dilation. However, the effects of changing sinus pressure around a normal arterial pressure set- point of 100 mm Hg have not been examined. In anesthetized, artificially ventilated dogs, the authors distended the vascularly isolated carotid sinuses with a pulsatile pressure and recorded isometric tension in an upper tracheal segment. The aortic nerves were cut. Increasing mean carotid sinus pressure in steps between 100 and 200 mm Hg decreased tracheal tension, heart rate, and arterial blood pressure; decreasing sinus pressure between 100 and 25 mm Hg had the opposite effect. Changing carotid sinus pressure still evoked tracheal responses when systemic arterial pressure was held constant. Increasing and decreasing carotid sinus pulse pressure around a constant mean pressure evoked similar changes in tracheal tension. All reflex effects were abolished by cutting or cooling (0°C) the carotid sinus nerves; tracheal responses were abolished by cutting the laryngeal nerves or administering atropine. When carotid sinus pressure was held at 100 mm Hg, cooling the sinus nerves increased tracheal tension. Changes in tracheal tension evoked by the carotid baroreflex were of comparable magnitude to those triggered by stimulating pulmonary stretch receptors, laryngeal receptors, and pulmonary C-fibers. The authors' results indicate that carotid sinus baroreceptors exert a tonic influence on the upper airways by a vagal cholinergic pathway, increasing and decreasing tracheal smooth muscle tension as blood pressure varies around the normal set-point.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine