The effect of human heart-lung transplantation upon breathing at rest and during sleep

S. A. Shea, R. L. Horner, N. R. Banner, E. McKenzie, R. Heaton, M. H. Yacoub, A. Guz

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44 Scopus citations


We have assessed the contribution of intrathoracic pulmonary nerves to the control of breathing in humans. During relaxed wakefulness and during sleep the level, pattern and variability of breathing have been quantified in 8 healthy patients 1 month to 2 years after combined heart-lung transplantation. These data have been compared with similar data from both of 2 matched control groups; either healthy normal controls, or healthy patients after heart transplantation alone. We found no significant differences in the mean levels of respiratory variables between the 3 groups either during relaxed wakefulness or sleep. There were no significant differences between groups (other than would be expected by chance alone) either in the variability of breathing, or in the shapes of the frequency distributions of respiratory variables during these states. There were no respiratory disorders associated with sleep nor any disturbances in blood gases in any group. We conclude that in man breathing is remarkably normal, during relaxed wakefulness and during sleep, after chronic pulmonary denervation. When the ventilatory demands are minimal the human ventilation system functions normally in the absence of a control loop involving pulmonary proprioceptors and the medullary respiratory centres.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)131-149
Number of pages19
JournalRespiration Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1988
Externally publishedYes


  • Breuer-Hering reflex
  • Control of breathing
  • Heart-lung transplantation
  • Pattern of breathing
  • Vagus nerve

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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