Respiratory sensations during heavy exercise in subjects without respiratory chemosensitivity

Christina M. Spengler, Robert B. Banzett, David M. Systrom, Daniel C. Shannon, Steven A. Shea

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Breathlessness arises from increased medullary respiratory center activity projecting to the forebrain (respiratory corollary discharge hypothesis). Subjects with congenital central hypoventilation syndrome (CCHS) lack the normal hyperpnea and breathlessness during hypercapnia. The corollary discharge hypothesis predicts that if CCHS subjects have normal hyperpnea during exercise, they will experience normal breathlessness during exercise. To test this, we studied four CCHS subjects and six matched controls during an exhausting constant-load cycling test requiring substantial anaerobiosis. CCHS subjects rated significantly less breathlessness at the end of the test than controls, but ventilation (index of respiratory corollary discharge) was also somewhat lower in CCHS (not significant). In both groups, breathlessness increased disproportionately more than ventilation towards the end of exercise. These data failed to disprove the corollary discharge hypothesis of breathlessness, but do suggest that the relationship between ventilation and breathlessness is non-linear and/or that projections of chemoreceptor afferents to the forebrain (presumed lacking in CCHS) is one source of breathlessness in normals. Copyright (C) 1998 Elsevier Science B.V.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)65-74
Number of pages10
JournalRespiration Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Chemosensitivity, hypercapnic response
  • Control of breathing, breathlessness
  • Disease, congenital central hypoventilation syndrome
  • Hypercapnia, breathlessness
  • Mammals, humans, infants
  • Sensation, breathlessness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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