The Vagus Nerve and the Control of Breathing during Postnatal Development

  • Daniel Marlot


In 1930, Coombs and Pike reported that double cervical vagotomy in the kittens affects respiration more than in the adult. They noted that, as in adult, respiratory frequency decreased, but sometimes, the amplitude of the diaphragmatic respiratory movements was less in kittens, often taking on a sobbing form. Moreover, kittens usually survived double vagotomy for only few hours. This observation suggested that vagal afferent information was more important for the control of breathing in the newborn than in the adult. After this original observation, numerous studies have been performed to precise the relative importance of the vagus nerve in newborns of several species. Reviews on this subject, have been recently published (Bruce, 1981; Trippenbach, 1981; Jansen and Chernick, 1983; Fisher an Sant’Ambrogio, 1985; Steele, 1986).


Vagus Nerve Functional Residual Capacity Postnatal Development Transpulmonary Pressure Superior Laryngeal Nerve 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Agostoni, E., Chinnock, J.E., Deburgh-Daly, M., and Murray, J.G., 1957, Functional and histological studies of the vagus nerve and its branches to the heart, lungs and abdominal viscera in the cat, J. Physiol. (London) 135: 182.Google Scholar
  2. Bodegard, G., 1975, Control of respiration in newborn babies, Acta Paediat. Scand. 64: 684.Google Scholar
  3. Bruce, E.N., 1981, Control of breathing in the newborn, Ann. Biomed. Eng. 9: 425.Google Scholar
  4. Bystrzycka, E., Nail, B.S., and Purves, M.J., 1975, Central and peripheral neural respiratory activity in the mature sheep foetus and newborn lamb, Respir. Physiol. 25: 199.Google Scholar
  5. Clement, M.G., Mortola, J.P., Albertini, M., and Aguggini, G., 1986, Effects of vagotomy on respiratory mechanics in newborn and adult pigs, J. Appl. Physiol. 60: 1992.Google Scholar
  6. Coombs, H.C., and Pike, F.H., 1930, The nervous control of respiration in kittens, Am. J. Physiol. 95: 681.Google Scholar
  7. Dawes, G.S., and Mott, J.C., 1959, Reflex respiratory activity in the newborn rabbit, J. Physiol. (London) 152: 271.Google Scholar
  8. De Neef, K.J., Jansen, J.R.C., and Vesprille, A., 1982, Developmental morphometry and physiology of the rabbit vagus nerve, Develop. Brain Res. 4: 265.Google Scholar
  9. Farber, J.P., Fisher, J.T., and Sant’Ambrogio, G., 1984, Airway receptor activity in the developing opossum, Am. J. Physiol. 246: 756R.Google Scholar
  10. Fisher, J.T., and Mortola, J.P., 1980, Statics of the respiratory system in newborn mammals, Respir. Physiol. 41: 155.Google Scholar
  11. Fisher, J.T., and Sant’Ambrogio, G., 1982, Location and discharge properties of respiratory vagal afferents in the newborn dog, Respir. Physiol. 50: 209.Google Scholar
  12. Fisher, J.T., and Sant•Ambrogio, G., 1985, Airway and lung receptors and their reflex effects in the newborn, Pediatrie Pulmonology 1: 112.Google Scholar
  13. Fleming, P.J., Bryan, A.C., and Bryan, M.H., 1978, Functional immaturity of pulmonary irritant receptors and apnea in newborn preterm infants, Pediatrics 61: 515.Google Scholar
  14. Gaultier, C., and Mortola, J.P., 1981, Hering-Breuer inflation reflex in young and adult mammals, Can. J. Physiol. Pharmacol. 59: 837.Google Scholar
  15. Jammes, J., Fornaris, E., Mei, N., and Barrat, E., 1982, Afferent and efferent components of the bronchial vagal branches in cat, J. Auton. Nerv. Syst. 5: 165.Google Scholar
  16. Jansen, A.H., and Chernick, V., 1983, Development of respiratory control, Physiol. Rev. 63: 437.Google Scholar
  17. Johnson, P., 1979, Comparative aspects of control of breathing during development, in: “Central nervous mechanisms in breathing”, C. von Euler, and H. Lagercrantz, Eds., Pergamon Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  18. Kalia, M., 1976, Visceral and somatic reflexes produced by J-pulmonary receptors in newborn kittens, J. Appl. Physiol. 41: 1.Google Scholar
  19. Kosch, P.C., Davenport, P.W., Wozniak, J.A., and Stark, A.R., 1986, Reflex control of inspiratory duration in newborn infants, J. Appl. Physiol. 60: 2007.Google Scholar
  20. Krous, H.F., Jordan, J., Wen, J., and Farber, J.P., 1984, Developmental morphology of the opossum vagus nerve, Fed. Proc. 43: 505.Google Scholar
  21. Lucier, G.E., Storey, A.T., and Sessle, B.J., 1979, Effects of upper respiratory tract stimuli on neonatal respiration: reflex and single neurons analyses in the kitten, Biol. Neonate 35: 82.Google Scholar
  22. Marlot, D., 1982, Recherches sur le contrôle nerveux de la respiration chez le chaton nouveau-né et au cours de la période post-natale, Thèse Doctorat ès-Sciences, Université de Picardie, Amiens.Google Scholar
  23. Marlot, D., and Duron, B., 1979a, Postnatal maturation of phrenic, vagus and intercostal nerves in the kitten, Biol. Neonate 36: 264.Google Scholar
  24. Marlot, D., and Duron, B., 1979b, Postnatal development of vagal control of breathing in the kitten, J. Physiol. (Paris) 75: 891.Google Scholar
  25. Marlot, D., and Duron, B., 1981, Postnatal development of the discharge pattern of phrenic motor units in the kitten, Respir. Physiol. 46: 125.Google Scholar
  26. Marlot, D., Mortola, J.P., and Duron, B., 1982, Functional localization of pulmonary stretch receptors in the tracheo-bronchial tree of the kitten, Can. J. Physiol. Pharmacol. 60: 1073.Google Scholar
  27. Marlot, D., and Mortola, J.P., 1984, Positive-and negative-pressure breathing in newborn rat before and after anesthesia, J. Appl. Physiol. 57: 1454.Google Scholar
  28. Miller, A.J., and Dunmire, C.R., 1976, Characterization of the postnatal development of superior laryngeal nerve fibers in the postnatal kitten, J. Neurobiol. 7: 483.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Mortola, J.P., Saetta, M., and Bartlett, Jr. D., 1987, Postnatal development of the lung following denervation, Respir. Physiol. 67: 137.Google Scholar
  30. Ponte, J., and Purves, M.J., 1973, Types of afferent nervous activity which may be measured in the vagus nerve of the sheep foetus, J. Physiol. (London) 229: 51.Google Scholar
  31. Sachis, P.N., Armstrong, D.L., Becker, L.E., and Bryan, A.C., 1982, Myelination of the human vagus nerve from 24 weeks post-conceptional age to adolescence, J. Neuropath. Exp. Neurol. 41: 466.Google Scholar
  32. Schwieler, G.H., 1968, Respiratory regulation during postnatal development in cats and rabbits and some of its morphological substrate, Acta Physiol. Scand. suppl. 304.Google Scholar
  33. Sessle, B.J., Greenwood, L.F., Lund, J.P., and Lucier, G.E., 1978, Effect of upper respiratory tract stimuli on respiration and single respiratory neurons in the adult cat, Exp. Neurol. 61: 245.Google Scholar
  34. Sica, A.L., Donnelly, D.F., Steele, A.M., and Gandhi, M.R., 1987, Discharge properties of dorsal medullary inspiratory neurons in newborn pigs, Brain Res. 408: 222.Google Scholar
  35. Steele, A.M., 1986, Developmental changes in neural control of respiration. in: “Developmental neurobiology of the autonomic nervous system”, P.M. Gootman, ed., Humana Press Inc., Clifton, N.J.Google Scholar
  36. Trippenbach, T., 1981, Laryngeal, vagal, and intercostal reflexes during the early postnatal period, J. Develop. Physiol. 3: 133.Google Scholar
  37. Trippenbach, T., Zinman, R., Mozes, R., and Murphy, L., 1979, Differences and similarities in the control of breathing pattern in the adult and neonate, in: “Central nervous control mechanisms in breathing”, C. von Euler and H. Lagercrantz, eds., Pergamon Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  38. Trippenbach, T., Kelly, G., and Marlot, D., 1985, Effects of tonic vagal input on breathing pattern in newborn rabbit, J. Appi. Physiol. 59: 223.Google Scholar
  39. Trippenbach, T., and Kelly, G., 1985, Expiratory effects of vagal stimulation in newborn kittens, J. Appl. Physiol. 59: 218.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel Marlot
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratoire de NeurophysiologieFaculté de MedecineAmiens CédexFrance

Personalised recommendations