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Hormones and Breathing*

Tarja Saaresranta, MD, PhD; Olli Polo, MD, PhD
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*From the Department of Pulmonary Diseases (Dr. Saaresranta), Turku University Central Hospital, and the Sleep Research Unit (Dr. Polo), Department of Physiology, Turku University, Turku, Finland.

Correspondence to: Tarja Saaresranta, MD, PhD, Department of Pulmonary Diseases, Turku University Central Hospital, Kiinamyllynkatu 4-8, FIN-20520 Turku, Finland; e-mail: tarja.saaresranta@tyks.fi



Chest. 2002;122(6):2165-2182. doi:10.1378/chest.122.6.2165
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A number of hormones, including hypothalamic neuropeptides acting as neurotransmitters and neuromodulators in the CNS, are involved in the physiologic regulation of breathing and participate in adjustment of breathing in disease. In addition to central effects, some hormones also control breathing at peripheral chemoreceptors or have local effects on the lungs and airways. Estrogen and progesterone seem to protect from sleep-disordered breathing, whereas testosterone may predispose to it. Progesterone and thyroxine have long been known to stimulate respiration. More recently, several hormones such as corticotropin-releasing hormone and leptin have been suggested to act as respiratory stimulants. Somatostatin, dopamine, and neuropeptide Y have a depressing effect on breathing. Animal models and experimental human studies suggest that also many other hormones may be involved in respiratory control.

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