Central chemoreceptors in the medulla

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- are sensitive to the pH of the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Decreases in the pH of the CSF produce increases in breathing rate (hyperventilation).

- H+ does not cross the blood-brain barrier as well as C02 does.

a. C02 diffuses from arterial blood into the CSF because C02 is lipid-soluble and readily crosses the blood-brain barrier.

b. In the CSF, C02 combines with H20 to produce H+ and HCO-r. The resulting H+ acts directly on the central chemoreceptors.

c. Thus, increases in Pco2 and [H+] stimulate breathing, and decreases in Pco2 and [H+] inhibit breathing.

d. The resulting hyperventilation or hypoventilation then returns the arterial Pco2 toward normal.

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