Transduction mechanisms in airway sensory nerves

Thomas Taylor-Clark, Bradley J. Undem

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


The induction of action potentials in airway sensory nerves relies on events leading to the opening of cation channels in the nerve terminal membrane and subsequent membrane depolarization. If the membrane depolarization is of sufficient rate and amplitude, action potential initiation will occur. The action potentials are then conducted to the central nervous system, leading to the initiation of various sensations and cardiorespiratory reflexes. Triggering events in airway sensory nerves include mechanical perturbation, inflammatory mediators, pH, temperature, and osmolarity acting through a variety of ionotropic and metabotropic receptors. Action potential initiation can be modulated (positively or negatively) through independent mechanisms caused mainly by autacoids and other metabotropic receptor ligands. Finally, gene expression of sensory nerves can be altered in adult mammals. This neuroplasticity can change the function of sensory nerves and likely involve both neurotrophin and use-dependent mechanisms. Here we provide a brief overview of some of the transduction mechanisms underlying these events.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)950-959
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of applied physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2006


  • Bronchopulmonary
  • C fiber
  • Chemosensitivity
  • Neuromodulation
  • Vagus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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