The anatomy

from the nasal cavity to the lungs

The respiratory system ensures external respiration and consists of the nasal cavity, pharynx, larynx, trachea, bronchi and lungs. The respiratory system can be functionally divided into an air-conducting sections from nose to terminal bronchiole and gas-exchanging sections from respiratory bronchiole to alveoli.

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The function

from oxygen to carbon dioxide

The main function of the respiratory system is to exchange of the respiratory gases oxygen (O2) and carbon dioxide (CO2). When inhaled air enters the lungs, the inhaled O2 is absorbed into the blood in exchange for CO2, which is called external respiration or pulmonary respiration. From the lungs, the O2 is transported into the body's cells, which absorb the O2 and metabolize it through cellular respiration. Cellular respiration produces CO2 as a waste product, which is released into the blood and exhaled with the remaining O2 through the lungs.

The biology behind

signal transduction and how it´s controlled

On the one hand, a network of neurons in the hindbrain (pons and medulla) regulate the automatic and rhythmic act of breathing. On the other hand, this process is strictly controlled by specific chemoreceptors. There are two types of respiratory chemoreceptors. The arterial chemoreceptors, which monitor and respond to changes in the partial pressure of O2 and CO2 in the arterial blood and the central chemoreceptors in the brain, which respond to changes in the partial pressure of CO2 in their immediate environment.

In addition to respiratory chemoreceptors, receptors in the respiratory muscles and lungs can also influence breathing patterns.

Impaired lung function

receptors play a major role for functionality

These receptors are particularly important when lung function is impaired, as they can help to maintain tidal volume and ventilation at a normal level. Some of these receptors, located in the airways and alveoli, are stimulated by rapid inflation of the lungs and by chemicals such as histamine, bradykinin and prostaglandins. However, the most important function of these receptors is probably to defend the lungs against harmful substances in the atmosphere.

One cause of impaired lung capacity can also be lung cancer. For lung cancer research, tumor markers such as neurospecific enolase (NSE) and carcinoembryonic antigen are of great importance.

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