Journal of Applied Physiology


Experiments were performed to determine whether increases in acidity isolated to the pulmonary circulation would stimulate hypothesized pulmonary chemoreceptors and increase respiratory drive in the anesthetized paralyzed mechanically ventilated cat (n = 9). Respiratory drive was assessed by measuring the frequency and amplitude of the integrated phrenic neurogram. To create an isolated pulmonary acidosis, blood returning to the lung was acidified by infusion of 0.3 M lactic acid (1.91 ml/min) into the inferior vena cava, while systemic arterial pH was restored to near normal levels by simultaneous infusion of base (0.3 M NaOH) into the left atrium. Six minutes after the start of this dual infusion of acid and base, right ventricular (pulmonary) pH decreased from 7.286 to 7.179 and PCO2 increased 7 Torr. Systemic arterial pH and PCO2 were unchanged from measurements immediately before the infusion. This level of pulmonary acidosis failed to increase respiratory drive as assessed by phrenic activity. To test the sensitivity of the preparation to known systemic arterial chemical stimuli, a combined pulmonary and systemic acidosis was elicited by infusion of 0.3 M lactic acid into the inferior vena cava and 0.3 M NaCl into the left atrium. This infusion significantly lowered both systemic arterial and pulmonary arterial pH (7.343 to 7.155 for systemic arterial pH and 7.286 to 7.067 for pulmonary pH) and increased phrenic efferent activity 45%. We conclude that phrenic efferent activity is unaffected by moderate reductions in the pH of the pulmonary circulation in the absence of a significant systemic arterial acidosis.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)