Central chemoreceptor function was assessed in unanesthetized alligators, Alligator mississippiensis, at body temperatures of 15, 25 and 35 degrees C. Two experiments were performed. In the first experiment, the fourth ventricle was perfused with mock cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) solutions of different pH values (7.1-7.9). Changes in pulmonary ventilation were evaluated with a pneumotachograph and arterial pH (pHa) was measured. Perfusion with low-pH solutions increased ventilation and arterial pH. Perfusion with high-pH solutions decreased ventilation and arterial pH. Mock CSF pH had a greater effect at higher temperatures. In the second experiment, the relative contributions of central and peripheral chemoreceptor drive to breathing were evaluated using hypercapnic gas mixtures to stimulate both central and peripheral chemoreceptors. Hypercapnia caused an increase in ventilation which was larger at higher temperatures. To stimulate only the peripheral chemoreceptors, the same hypercapnic gas mixtures were applied while the CSF pH of the fourth ventricle was kept constant by perfusion with a mock CSF solution. This reduced significantly the ventilatory response induced by hypercapnia. These data indicate that, regardless of the temperature, central chemoreceptors play a major role in the ventilatory regulation of the alligator. The change in pHa with temperature is compatible with the alphastat hypothesis.

This content is only available via PDF.