To determine the sensory receptor of the nonadrenergic inhibitory nervous system (NAIS), 22 cats were anesthetized and serotonin was continuously administered (50–250 micrograms.kg-1.min-1 iv) to increase pulmonary resistance (RL) to 377 +/- 57% (SE) of the control value. We then 1) mechanically irritated the trachea, 2) intravenously administered capsaicin (5 micrograms/kg), or 3) induced hypoxia (arterial PO2 30–40 Torr) to stimulate irritant and bronchial C-fiber receptors, pulmonary C-fiber receptors, or the carotid body (chemoreceptors), respectively. After treatment with atropine (3 mg/kg iv) and propranolol (2 mg/kg iv), the serotonin-induced change in RL was reduced by 58.6 +/- 14.3% by mechanical irritation and 63.3 +/- 12.1% by intravenous capsaicin. However, hypoxia produced no dilatation of the airways. In further experiments, we employed capsaicin inhalation to stimulate bronchial C-fiber receptors. Inhaled capsaicin (0.1%, for 5 breaths) also reduced RL by 79.2 +/- 9.2% of the elevated value, after atropine and propranolol. Treatment with a ganglionic blocking agent, hexamethonium (2 mg/kg iv), abolished bronchodilator responses, implying that a reflex pathway through vagal nerves is involved in this phenomenon. These results suggest that pulmonary and bronchial C-fiber receptors may be involved as sensory receptors in NAIS reflex bronchodilatation.
- Copyright © 1987 the American Physiological Society