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We have considered some of the available evidence to account for the impact of SARS-CoV on the regulatory control of the autonomic nervous and respiratory systems. Apart from stimulating general interest in the subject, our hope was to provide putative explanations for some of the patients' symptoms based on described physiological and pathophysiological mechanisms seen in other diseases. Herein, we have focused on the carotid bodies. In this hypothetical viewpoint, we have discussed the plasticity of the carotid body chemoreflex and made a comparison between acute and chronic exposures to high altitude with COVID-19. From these discussions, we have postulated that the sensitivity of the hypoxic ventilatory response may well determine the outcome of disease severity and those that live at high altitude may be more resistant. We have provided insight into silent hypoxia and attempted to explain an absence of ventilatory drive and anxiety yet maintenance of consciousness. In an attempt to discover more about the mysteries of COVID-19, we conclude with questions and some hypothetical studies that may answer them. Copyright © 2021 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Benedito H Machado, Julian F R Paton. Relevance of carotid bodies in COVID-19: A hypothetical viewpoint. Autonomic neuroscience : basic & clinical. 2021 Jul;233:102810

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PMID: 33894532

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