Functional morphology and physiology of slowly adapting pulmonary stretch receptors

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Since the original work by Hering and Breuer (1868) on slowly adapting pulmonary stretch receptors (SARs), numerous studies have demonstrated that these receptors are the lung vagal afferents responsible for eliciting the reflexes evoked by moderate lung inflation. SARs play a role in controlling breathing pattern, airway smooth muscle tone, systemic vascular resistance, and heart rate. Both anatomical and physiological studies support the contention that SARs, by their close association with airway smooth muscle, continuously sense the tension within the myoelastic components of the airways caused by lung inflation, smooth muscle contraction, and/or tethering of small intrapulmonary airways to the lung parenchyma. As a result, the receptor field location within the tracheobronchial tree of a SAR plays an important role in its discharge pattern, with variations in airway transluminal pressure and airway smooth muscle orientation being important modulating factors. The disruption of airway myoelastic components in various pulmonary diseases would be expected to alter the discharge pattern of SARs, and contribute to changes in breathing pattern and airway smooth muscle tone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11-16
Number of pages6
JournalAnatomical Record - Part A Discoveries in Molecular, Cellular, and Evolutionary Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2003


  • Control of ventilation
  • Slowly adapting pulmonary stretch receptors
  • Vagus nerve

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Anatomy


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