Nicotine Attenuates the Ventilatory Response to Hypoxia in the Developing Lamb


ABSTRACT: Decreased ability to generate a hyperventilatory response to hypoxemia is believed to be an important mechanism in the pathophysiology of sudden infant death syndrome, and maternal smoking is a leading risk factor. To investigate whether there may be a link between these two observations, we studied five lambs at mean ages of 7,17, and 27 d to determine the effects of an i.v. infusion of nicotine (0.5 μg/kg/min) on ventilation when peripheral chemoreceptor activity was stimulated by hypoxia (0.1 FiO2) or briefly inhibited by hyperoxia. Ventilatory measurements were performed using a computer-aided occlusion valve device which permitted breath-by-breath determinations of inspiratory occlusion pressures (P0.1) and minute ventilation. Nicotine attenuated the early ventilatory response to hypoxia (min 1, 2, and 3 of the test) by 8, 26, and 37%, respectively, at the age of 7 d (analysis of variance overall, p < 0.05), by 23%, 23 and 37% at 17 d (p = NS) and by 40, 45, and 37% at 27 d (p < 0.05). The decrease in ventilation in response to hyperoxia during the control study without nicotine was 18, 35, and 34% at 7, 17, and 27 d, respectively. Nicotine caused a greater decrease in the response: 31, 45, and 46%, respectively, (p < 0.05 at 27 d). The paradoxical effects of nicotine, attenuation of the ventilatory response to hypoxia and augmentation of the response to hyperoxia, suggest that nicotine altered peripheral chemoreceptor oxygen sensitivity and most likely also affected central processing of the chemoreceptor input. It is hypothesized that the association between parental smoking and sudden infant death syndrome is related to the adverse effects of nicotine on central control of breathing.

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Correspondence to Håkan w Sundell.

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Milerad, J., Larsson, H., Lin, J. et al. Nicotine Attenuates the Ventilatory Response to Hypoxia in the Developing Lamb. Pediatr Res 37, 652–660 (1995).

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