Stimulation of bronchial C-fibers evokes a reflex increase in secretion by tracheal submucosal glands, but the influence of pulmonary C-fibers on tracheal gland secretion is uncertain. In anesthetized dogs with open chests, we sprayed powdered tantalum on the exposed mucosa of a segment of the upper trachea to measure the rate of secretion by submucosal glands. Secretions from the gland ducts caused elevations (hillocks) in the tantalum layer. We counted hillocks at 10-s intervals for 60 s before and 60 s after we injected capsaicin (10-20 μg/kg) into the right atrium to stimulate pulmonary C-fiber endings. Right atrial injection of capsaicin increased the rate of hillock formation 4-fold, but left atrial injection had no significant effect. The response was abolished by cutting the vagus nerves or cooling them to 0° C. We conclude that the reflex increase in tracheal submucosal gland secretion evoked by right atrial injection of capsaicin was initiated as capsaicin passed through the pulmonary vascular bed, and hence that pulmonary C-fibers, like bronchial C-fibers, reflexly increase airway secretion.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physiology (medical)