This study was designed to determine if acute distension of the hindlimb venous circulation stimulates breathing, thereby contributing to the respiratory responses to rapid changes in total blood volume. In 10 spontaneously breathing anesthetized sheep, we withdrew 15 ml kg-1 of blood from a femoral vein over approximately 1-2 min. We then compared the respiratory effects of infusing this venous blood back into the femoral veins across two conditions: the inferior vena cava (IVC) was either unobstructed or obstructed by a balloon-tipped catheter. We found that when blood was withdrawn and blood volume decreased, an absolute increase in breathing often occurred, but more importantly that a relative hyperventilation was always observed. When this blood was re-infused into the animal, effectively increasing blood volume, the respiratory response depended upon whether or not the IVC was open or obstructed. With the IVC unobstructed, a relative hypoventilation occurred, accompanied by an increase in alveolar PCO2. In contrast, when the venous blood was re-infused and the IVC was obstructed, ventilation increased significantly, and the response was often hypocapnic. These results indicate that increasing the volume load in the venous circulation increases breathing, and that the transduction mechanism is contained within the peripheral venous system. Further, the respiratory drive from this sensory mechanism is subject to modulation via changes in the circulatory status, most likely within the arterial side.
- Control of breathing, Cardiac preload