Standard Article

Neural Control of the Upper Airway: Integrative Physiological Mechanisms and Relevance for Sleep Disordered Breathing

  1. Richard L. Horner

Published Online: 1 JAN 2012

DOI: 10.1002/cphy.c110023

Comprehensive Physiology

Comprehensive Physiology

How to Cite

Horner, R. L. 2012. Neural Control of the Upper Airway: Integrative Physiological Mechanisms and Relevance for Sleep Disordered Breathing. Comprehensive Physiology. 2:479–535.

Author Information

  1. Departments of Medicine and Physiology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 JAN 2012

Abstract

The various neural mechanisms affecting the control of the upper airway muscles are discussed in this review, with particular emphasis on structure-function relationships and integrative physiological motor-control processes. Particular foci of attention include the respiratory function of the upper airway muscles, and the various reflex mechanisms underlying their control, specifically the reflex responses to changes in airway pressure, reflexes from pulmonary receptors, chemoreceptor and baroreceptor reflexes, and postural effects on upper airway motor control. This article also addresses the determinants of upper airway collapsibility and the influence of neural drive to the upper airway muscles, and the influence of common drugs such as ethanol, sedative hypnotics, and opioids on upper airway motor control. In addition to an examination of these basic physiological mechanisms, consideration is given throughout this review as to how these mechanisms relate to integrative function in the intact normal upper airway in wakefulness and sleep, and how they may be involved in the pathogenesis of clinical problems such obstructive sleep apnea hypopnea. © 2012 American Physiological Society. Compr Physiol 2:479-535, 2012.