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Scientists describe lung ventilation adjustment mechanism to physiological demands

  • The study conducted by a research team of the Laboratory of Neural Systems led by Dr Jaime Eugenín, professor at the Department of Biology of Universidad de satiago, was able to establish the mechanisms for CO2 elimination trough the respiratory system. The study was published in the journal Nature Communications.


​“We are very happy that our paper D-serine released by astrocytes in brainstem regulates breathing response to CO2 levels was published, as it was the result of much work, dedication and great effort,” Dr Jaime Eugenín said. After seven years of research work, the paper was published last October in the renowned scientific journal Nature Communications.

The study -which has been completely conducted in Chile- is based on two dissertations for the Neuroscience doctoral program: one by Dr Sebastián Beltrán and the other by doctoral candidate María José Olivares.

Dr Eugenín says that the publication reflects the high level of research at the Faculty of Chemistry and Biology and the quality of the research team. The study was conducted by a team of the Laboratory of Neural Systems of Universidad de Santiago with the collaboration of professors at Faculty of Chemistry and Biology; Dr Rodrigo Contreras and Dr Gustavo Zúñiga, both researchers at the Vegetal Physiology Laboratory; and Dr Rommy von Bernhardi, researcher at the Neuroscience Laboratory of Universidad Católica de Chile.

The study describes the mechanisms for CO2 elimination trough the respiratory system. It particularly elucidates the function of brainstem astrocytes and their role in detecting high levels of CO2, releasing gliotransmitters and activating the neurons that produce the respiratory rhythm and, therefore, adjusting pulmonary ventilation to physiological demands.

“There are several conditions like Rett syndrome, central congenital hypoventilation syndrome and sudden infant death syndrome, in which the ventilation response to increased levels of CO2 is reduced. However, learning about the underlying mechanism will lead to better therapeutic approaches to these conditions,” Dr Eugenín explained.

Regarding the impact of their paper published in Nature Communications, Dr Eugenín says that it will contribute to promote their work because this journal is an international platform. “One of the beautiful things of the scientific activity is that every finding brings new questions and leads to the search of new findings,” he added.

Translated by Marcela Contreras

Nicolás Gaona Reydet