Cardiovascular and pulmonary neurobiology
The essential role of the heart and lung for the body and the immense socio-economical importance of the diseases of these organs need no further explanation.
Blood vessels, the heart, airways, and the lung are under prominent control by the autonomic and sensory nervous system. Besides their widely known effects on heart frequency, blood pressure, and air flow resistance these nerve fibres also influence allergic and inflammatory responses.
A prerequisite for a meaningful regulation of all these functions are adequate sensor systems which continuously monitor blood pressure and oxygen tension. These include a family of organs dispersed in the body - the carotid body and additional so-called paraganglia - which respond to a reduction in oxygen supply by eliciting respiratory and cardiovascular reflexes.