Quantitative and Qualitative Changes in Peripheral Chemoreceptor Activity in Preterm Infants

Daniel M. Mammel, John L. Carroll, Barbara B. Warner, Bradley A. Edwards, Dwayne L. Mann, Michael J. Wallendorf, Julie A. Hoffmann, Cameron M. Conklin, Harley Pyles, James Kemp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Rationale: Preterm infants are at risk for ventilatory control instability that may be due to aberrant peripheral chemoreceptor activity. Although term infants have increasing peripheral chemoreceptor contribution to overall ventilatory drive with increasing postnatal age, how peripheral chemoreceptor contribution changes in preterm infants with increasing postmenstrual age is not known. Objectives: To evaluate peripheral chemoreceptor activity between 32 and 52 weeks postmenstrual age in preterm infants, using both quantitative and qualitative measures. Methods: Fifty-five infants born between 24 weeks, 0 days gestation and 28 weeks, 6 days gestation underwent hyperoxic testing at one to four time points between 32 and 52 weeks postmenstrual age. Quantitative [Formula: see text] decreases were calculated, and qualitative responses were categorized as apnea, continued breathing with a clear reduction in [Formula: see text], sigh breaths, and no response. Measurements and Main Results: A total of 280 hyperoxic tests were analyzed (2.2 ± 0.3 tests per infant at each time point). Mean peripheral chemoreceptor contribution to ventilatory drive was 85.2 ± 20.0% at 32 weeks and 64.1 ± 22.0% at 52 weeks. Apneic responses were more frequent at earlier postmenstrual ages. Conclusions: Among preterm infants, the peripheral chemoreceptor contribution to ventilatory drive was greater at earlier postmenstrual ages. Apnea was a frequent response to hyperoxic testing at earlier postmenstrual ages, suggesting high peripheral chemoreceptor activity. A clearer description of how peripheral chemoreceptor activity changes over time in preterm infants may help explain how ventilatory control instability contributes to apnea and sleep-disordered breathing later in childhood. Clinical trial registered with www.clinicaltrials.gov (NCT03464396).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)594-601
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican journal of respiratory and critical care medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 1 2023


  • hyperoxic test
  • preterm infant
  • sleep-disordered breathing
  • ventilatory control


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