Changes in arterial Po2, Pco2, and pH are the strongest stimuli sensed by peripheral and central chemoreceptors to adjust ventilation to the metabolic demand. Erythropoietin (Epo), the main regulator of red blood cell production, increases the hypoxic ventilatory response, an effect attributed to the presence of Epo receptors in both carotid bodies and key brainstem structures involved in integration of peripheral inputs and control of breathing. However, it is not known whether Epo also has an effect on the hypercapnic chemoreflex. In a first attempt to answer this question, we tested the hypothesis that Epo alters the ventilatory response to increased CO2 levels. Basal ventilation and hypercapnic ventilatory response (HCVR) were recorded from control mice and from two transgenic mouse lines constitutively expressing high levels of human Epo in brain only (Tg21) or in brain and plasma (Tg6), the latter leading to polycythemia. To tease apart the potential effects of polycythemia and levels of plasma Epo in the HCVR, control animals were injected with an Epo analog (Aranesp), and Tg6 mice were treated with the hemolytic agent phenylhydrazine after splenectomy. Ventilatory parameters measured by plethysmography in conscious mice were consistent with data from electrophysiological recordings in anesthetized animals and revealed a blunted HCVR in Tg6 mice. Polycythemia alone and increased levels of plasma Epo blunt the HCVR. In addition, Tg21 mice with an augmented level of cerebral Epo also had a decreased HCVR. We discuss the potential implications of these findings in several physiopathological conditions.
- carbon dioxide
- ventilatory control
- carotid bodies
- respiratory network
- Copyright © 2016 the American Physiological Society
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