Cerebral blood flow, cerebrovascular reactivity and their influence on ventilatory sensitivity

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Alveolar ventilation and cerebral blood flow are both predominantly regulated by arterial blood gases, especially arterial PCO2, and so are intricately entwined. In this review, the fundamental mechanisms underlying cerebrovascular reactivity and central chemoreceptor control of breathing are covered. We discuss the interaction of cerebral blood flow and its reactivity with the control of ventilation and ventilatory responsiveness to changes in PCO2, as well as the lack of influence of ventilation itself on cerebrovascular reactivity. We briefly summarize the effects of arterial hypoxaemia on the relationship between ventilatory and cerebrovascular response to both PCO2 and PO2. We then highlight key methodological considerations regarding the interaction of reactivity and ventilatory sensitivity, including the following: regional heterogeneity of cerebrovascular reactivity; a pharmacological approach for the reduction of cerebral blood flow; reactivity assessment techniques; the influence of mean arterial blood pressure; and sex-related differences. Finally, we discuss ventilatory and cerebrovascular control in the context of high altitude and congestive heart failure. Future research directions and pertinent questions of interest are highlighted throughout.

Original languageEnglish
JournalExperimental Physiology
Issue number7
Pages (from-to)1425-1448
Number of pages24
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors. Experimental Physiology © 2021 The Physiological Society

    Research areas

  • Cerebral blood flow, Cerebrovascular reactivity, Ventilation, Ventilatory sensitivity

ID: 270673704