Central Chemoreceptor vs Peripheral Chemoreceptor in Respiration [Biology, MCAT, USMLE]

There are two types of chemoreceptors that help control and regulate our respiratory rate: 1) central chemoreceptors and 2) peripheral chemoreceptors. Both central chemoreceptors and peripheral chemoreceptors send signals to the main respiratory center in the brain that unconsciously tells our bodies to increase or reduce pulmonary ventilation. In this lesson, we describe the differences and similarities of central chemoreceptors and peripheral chemoreceptors for the pulmonary system. <Central Chemoreceptors vs Peripheral Chemoreceptor>

Peripheral Chemoreceptors

Respond to O2, CO2, and pH

Large amounts of O2 really trigger central chemoreceptors

Includes carotid bodies and aortic body

Central Chemoreceptor

Central chemoreceptors in the CNS or central nervous system respond to pCO2 and pH, or CO2 production and H+.

Responds the best to pCO2

The blood brain barrier is permeable to CO2, so brain rapidly responds to CO2 changes.

Indirectly detects pH in blood

Directly responds to CO2 changes in blood

H+ ions cannot permeate through the blood-brain barrier. H+ ions must be actively transported in the choroid plexus. Thus, brain has a slower response to changes in blood pH

pCO2 detected faster than pH

Mechanoreceptors stimulate respiration

Chemoreceptor Response to pO2 and pCO2

As alveolar PAO2 increases, ventilation decreases in a curved relationship.

However, as PACO2 increases, pulmonary ventilation increases linearly. They also respond to lower PAO2 conditions. The lower the PAo2, the steeper the linear curve is for PAco2 vs Pulmonary ventilation.

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