Proceedings of The Physiological Society

Physiology 2016 (Dublin, Ireland) (2016) Proc Physiol Soc 37, PL05

Poster Communications

Carotid body chemoreflex: A driver of autonomic abnormalities in sleep-apnea

N. R. Prabhakar1

1. University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, United States.


Carotid bodies are the principal peripheral chemoreceptors for detecting changes in the arterial blood oxygen levels, and the resulting chemo reflex is a potent regulator of sympathetic tone, blood pressure, and breathing. Sleep apnea is a disease of the respiratory system affecting several million humans. Apneas occur during sleep often due to obstruction of the upper airway (obstructive sleep apnea, OSA) or due to defective respiratory rhythm generation by the central nervous system (central sleep apnea, CSA). Patients with sleep apnea exhibit several co-morbidties most notably heightened sympathetic activity and hypertension. Emerging evidence suggests that intermittent hypoxia (IH) resulting from periodic apnea stimulates the carotid body and ensuing chemo reflex mediates the increased sympathetic tone and hypertension. Rodent models of IH, simulating the O2 saturation profiles encountered during sleep apnea provided important insights into the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying the heightened carotid body chemo reflex. My presentation focuses on how IH affects the carotid body function, and discusses the cellular, molecular and epigenetic mechanisms underlying exaggerated chemo reflex.

Where applicable, experiments conform with Society ethical requirements