Carbon dioxide-sensing in organisms and its implications for human disease

Eoin P. Cummins, Andrew C. Selfridge, Peter H. Sporn, Jacob I. Sznajder, Cormac T. Taylor*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

102 Scopus citations


The capacity of organisms to sense changes in the levels of internal and external gases and to respond accordingly is central to a range of physiologic and pathophysiologic processes. Carbon dioxide, a primary product of oxidative metabolism is one such gas that can be sensed by both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells and in response to altered levels, elicit the activation of multiple adaptive pathways. The outcomes of activating CO2-sensitive pathways in various species include increased virulence of fungal and bacterial pathogens, prey-seeking behavior in insects as well as taste perception, lung function, and the control of immunity in mammals. In this review, we discuss what is known about the mechanisms underpinning CO2sensing across a range of species and consider the implications of this for physiology, disease progression, and the possibility of developing new therapeutics for inflammatory and infectious disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)831-845
Number of pages15
JournalCellular and Molecular Life Sciences
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 2014


  • Carbon dioxide (CO)
  • Hypercapnia
  • Immune regulation
  • NF-kappaB
  • Physiological gases

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology
  • Pharmacology


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