Residual chemosensitivity to ventilatory challenges in genotyped congenital central hypoventilation syndrome

Michael Sean Carroll*, Pallavi P. Patwari, Anna S. Kenny, Cindy D. Brogadir, Tracey M. Stewart, Debra E Weese-Mayer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Congenital central hypoventilation syndrome (CCHS) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by life-threatening hypoventilation, possibly resulting from disruption of central chemosensory integration. However, animal models suggest the possibility of residual chemosensory function in the human disease. Cardioventilatory function in a large cohort with CCHS and verified paired-like homeobox 2B (PHOX2B) mutations was assessed to determine the extent and genotype dependence of any residual chemosensory function in these patients. As part of inpatient clinical care and evaluation, 64 distinct studies from 32 infants, children, and young adults with the disorder were evaluated for physiological response to three different inspired steady-state gas exposures of 3 min each: hyperoxia [100% oxygen (O2)]; hyperoxic hypercapnia [95% O 2 and 5% carbon dioxide (CO2)]; and hypoxic hypercapnia [14% O2 and 7% CO2 balanced with nitrogen (N 2)]. These were followed by a hypoxia challenge consisting of five or seven breaths of N2 (100% N2). In addition, a control group of 15 young adults was exposed to all but the hypoxic challenge. Comprehensive monitoring was used to derive breath-to-breath and beat-to-beat measures of ventilatory, cardiovascular, and cerebrovascular function. On average, patients showed a residual awake ventilatory response to chemosensory challenge, independent of the specific patient PHOX2B genotype. Graded dysfunction in cardiovascular regulation was found to associate with genotype, suggesting differential effects on different autonomic subsystems. In addition, differences between cases and controls in the cerebrovascular response to chemosensory challenge may indicate alterations in cerebral autoregulation. Thus residual cardiorespiratory responses suggest partial preservation of central nervous system networks that could provide a fulcrum for potential pharmacological interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)439-450
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 15 2014


  • Congenital central hypoventilation syndrome
  • PHOX2B
  • Ventilatory challenge

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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