A Decrease in Nasal CO2 Stimulates Breathing in the Tegu Lizard

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Respiration Physiology


Tegu lizards decrease ventilatory frequency (f) when constant CO2, as low as 0.4%, is delivered to the nasal cavities. In contrast, CO2, as high as 6%, pulsed into the nasal cavities during the expiratory phase of the breathing cycle does not alter f. The purpose of the present study was to investigate further the effect of nasal CO2 pattern on f in tegu lizards. Specifically, we tested: (1) whether f was affected by CO2 delivered to the nasal cavities during the inspiratory phase of the breathing cycle, and (2) whether pulsed decreases in nasal CO2 from 4% to 2% and from 4% to 0% would remove the f inhibition caused by constant nasal CO2. Ventilation was measured using a pneumotachograph and pressure transducer in-line with an endotracheal T-tube inserted through the glottis. CO2 was delivered to the nasal cavities through small tubes inserted into the external nares. Ventilatory frequency was not significantly altered when 4% CO2 was pulsed into the nasal cavities during inspiration. Dropping the CO2 in the nasal cavities from 4% to 0% at either 15 cycles/min (0.25 Hz) or for one cycle stimulated breathing. There was no significant difference between the f response to a drop in CO2 from 4% to 0% and that to a drop in CO2 from 4% to 2%. The failure to link the phasic CO2 ventilatory response to a phase in the respiratory cycle indicates that the nasal CO2 receptors do not participate in the breath-by-breath regulation of breathing in these lizards. The observation that small decreases in nasal CO2 abolished the f inhibition caused by constant nasal CO2 provides further evidence for the ability of the nasal CO2 receptors to distinguish between pulsed and constant CO2.



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Tegu lizard