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Modulation Of Upper Airway Muscle Activities By Bronchopulmonary Afferents

E. Fiona Bailey, Ralph F. Fregosi

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Here we review the influence of bronchopulmonary receptors (slowly and rapidly adapting pulmonary stretch receptors, and pulmonary/bronchial C-fiber receptors) on respiratory-related motor output to upper airway muscles acting on the larynx, tongue, and hyoid arch. Review of the literature shows that all muscles in all three regions are profoundly inhibited by lung inflation, which excites slowly adapting pulmonary stretch receptors. This widespread coactivation includes the recruitment of muscles that have opposing mechanical actions, suggesting that the stiffness of upper airway muscles is highly regulated. A profound lack of information on the modulation of upper airway muscles by rapidly adapting receptors and bronchopulmonary C-fiber receptors prohibits formulation of a conclusive opinion as to their actions and underscores an urgent need for new studies in this area. The preponderance of the data support the view that discharge arising in slowly adapting pulmonary stretch receptors plays an important role in the initiation of the widespread and highly coordinated recruitment of laryngeal, tongue, and hyoid muscles during airway obstruction.