Transformation of Our Understanding of Breathing Control by Molecular Tools

Author: Kevin Yackle1
1 Department of Physiology, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA; email:
Conference/Journal: Annu Rev Physiol
Date published: 2022 Nov 2
Other: Special Notes: doi: 10.1146/annurev-physiol-021522-094142. , Word Count: 183

The rhythmicity of breath is vital for normal physiology. Even so, breathing is enriched with multifunctionality. External signals constantly change breathing, stopping it when under water or deepening it during exertion. Internal cues utilize breath to express emotions such as sighs of frustration and yawns of boredom. Breathing harmonizes with other actions that use our mouth and throat, including speech, chewing, and swallowing. In addition, our perception of breathing intensity can dictate how we feel, such as during the slow breathing of calming meditation and anxiety-inducing hyperventilation. Heartbeat originates from a peripheral pacemaker in the heart, but the automation of breathing arises from neural clusters within the brainstem, enabling interaction with other brain areas and thus multifunctionality. Here, we document how the recent transformation of cellular and molecular tools has contributed to our appreciation of the diversity of neuronal types in the breathing control circuit and how they confer the multifunctionality of breathing. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Physiology, Volume 85 is February 2023. Please see for revised estimates.

PMID: 36323001 DOI: 10.1146/annurev-physiol-021522-094142