Ecto-5'-nucleotidase, adenosine and transmembrane adenylyl cyclase signalling regulate basal carotid body chemoafferent outflow and establish the sensitivity to hypercapnia

Andrew P Holmes, Ana Rita Nunes, Martin J Cann, Prem Kumar

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
240 Downloads (Pure)


Carotid body (CB) stimulation by hypercapnia causes a reflex increase in ventilation and, along with the central chemoreceptors, this prevents a potentially lethal systemic acidosis. Control over the CB chemoafferent output during normocapnia and hypercapnia most likely involves multiple neurotransmitters and neuromodulators including ATP, acetylcholine, dopamine, serotonin and adenosine, but the precise role of each is yet to be fully established. In the present study, recordings of chemoafferent discharge frequency were made from the isolated in vitro CB in order to determine the contribution of adenosine, derived specifically from extracellular catabolism of ATP, in mediating basal chemoafferent activity and responses to hypercapnia. Pharmacological inhibition of ecto-5'-nucleotidase (CD73), a key enzyme required for extracellular generation of adenosine from ATP, using α,β-methylene ADP, virtually abolished the basal normocapnic single fibre discharge frequency (superfusate PO(2) ~ 300 mmHg, PCO(2) ~ 40 mmHg) and diminished the chemoafferent response to hypercapnia (PCO(2) ~ 80 mmHg). These effects were mimicked by the blockade of adenosine receptors with 8-(p-sulfophenyl) theophylline. The excitatory impact of adenosinergic signalling on CB hypercapnic sensitivity is most likely to be conferred through changes in cAMP. Here, inhibition of transmembrane, but not soluble adenylate cyclases, reduced normocapnic single fibre activity and inhibited the elevation evoked by hypercapnia by approximately 50 %. These data therefore identify a functional role for CD73 derived adenosine and transmembrane adenylate cyclases, in modulating the basal chemoafferent discharge frequency and in priming the CB to hypercapnic stimulation.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationArterial Chemoreceptors in Physiology and Pathophysiology
EditorsChris Peers, Prem Kumar, Christopher Wyatt, Estelle Gauda, Colin A. Nurse, Nanduri Prabhakar
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)978-3319184401
ISBN (Print)978-3319184395
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Publication series

NameAdvances in Experimental Medicine and Biology
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
ISSN (Electronic)0065-2598


  • carotid body
  • adenosine
  • hypercapnia
  • Ecto-5′-nucleotidase
  • cAMP


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