Oxygen sensing in the carotid body and its relation to heart failure

Robert S. Fitzgerald, Machiko Shirahata, Alexander Balbir, Courtney E. Grossman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


This brief review first touches on the origins of the earth's oxygen. It then identifies and locates the principal oxygen sensor in vertebrates, the carotid body (CB). The CB is unique in that in human subjects, it is the only sensor of lower than normal levels in the partial pressure of oxygen (hypoxia, HH). Another oxygen sensor, the aortic bodies, are mostly vestigial in higher vertebrates. At least they play a much smaller role than the CB. In such an important role, the many reflexes in response to CB stimulation by HH are presented. After briefly reviewing what CB stimulation does, the next topic is to describe how the CB chemotransduces HH into neural signals to the brain. Several mechanisms are known, but critical steps in the mechanisms of chemosensation and chemotransduction are still under investigation. Finally, a brief glance at the operation of the CB in chronic heart failure patients is presented. Specifically, the role of nitric oxide, NO, is discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)745-749
Number of pages5
JournalAntioxidants and Redox Signaling
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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