ABSTRACT: Arousal from sleep is a major defense mechanism in infants against hypoxia and/or hypercapnia. Arousal failure may be an important contributor to SIDS. Areas of the brainstem that have been found to be abnormal in a majority of SIDS infants are involved in the arousal process. Arousal is sleep state dependent, being depressed during AS in most mammals, but depressed during QS in human infants. Repeated exposure to hypoxia causes a progressive blunting of arousal that may involve medullary raphe GABAergic mechanisms. Whereas CB chemoreceptors contribute heavily to arousal in response to hypoxia, serotonergic central chemoreceptors have been implicated in the arousal response to CO(2). Pulmonary or chest wall mechanoreceptors also contribute to arousal in proportion to the ventilatory response and decreases in their input may contribute to depressed arousal during AS. Little is known about specific arousal pathways beyond the NTS. Whether CB chemoreceptor stimulation directly stimulates arousal centers or whether this is done indirectly through respiratory networks remains unknown. This review will focus on arousal in response to hypoxia and CO(2) in the fetus and newborn and will outline what we know (and do not know) about the involvement of the carotid body in this process.
Respiratory Physiology & Neurobiology 06/2012; · 2.24 Impact Factor