Stimulation of pulmonary vagal afferent C-fibers by lung edema in dogs

A. M. Roberts, J. Bhattacharya, H. D. Schultz, H. M. Coleridge, J. C. Coleridge

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108 Scopus citations


In anesthetized, open-chest dogs we examined the effect of pulmonary edema on the firing frequency of afferent vagal fibers arising from the lung. We recorded impulses from slips of the cervical vagus nerves and infused isotonic Krebs-Henseleit solution (20% of body weight) intravenously to increase net filtration pressure in the lung microvasculature. Measurement of extravascular lung water (6.0 ± 0.4 g/g dry lung), and morphological examination of lung tissue (revealing various degrees of perivascular and peribronchial cuffing) confirmed that edema was present. At the end of the infusion when the lungs were congested (lung microvascular pressure, 37 cm water) and edematous, the impulse frequency of pulmonary and bronchial C-fibers and rapidly adapting receptors had increased 5-6 times. The only significant change in slowly adapting receptor activity was an increase during deflation. When lung water was still elevated but lung microvascular pressure had been restored to control by withdrawal of blood, impulse activity of rapidly and slowly adapting receptors reverted to or below control. Pulmonary C-fiber activity, although less than during congestion, remained significantly above control, several C-fibers being stimulated by interstitial edema in the absence of alveolar edema. Bronchial C-fibers were stimulated in severely edematous lung showing pronounced peribronchial cuffing and alveolar edema, but were not stimulated in milder grades of edema. Our results support the hypothesis (Paintal, 1969) that pulmonary C-fibers (J-receptors) are stimulated by an increase in interstitial pressure secondary to edema.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)512-522
Number of pages11
JournalCirculation Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1986
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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