The ventilatory response to a rising carbon-dioxide (CO2) tension has been determined in healthy New Guinea natives using a new apparatus which was developed for field-work. The response in New Guineans did not vary greatly between individuals, in contrast to the finding in healthy Caucasians. In all twelve New Guinean subjects the indices of response fell in the lowest range of Caucasian response. These findings suggest that genetic and racial factors account for the marked variability of the ventilatory response to CO2 in normal man. It is suggested that inherited insensitivity of the respiratory centre in New Guineans (and in some Caucasians) leads to unusually severe disturbances of blood gases in chronic lung disease. This hypothesis is supported by published data relating arterial PCO2 and the severity of airways obstruction in New Guineans.


Journal article



Publication Date





1290 - 1294


Carbon Dioxide, Ethnic Groups, Humans, New Guinea, Pilot Projects, Respiratory Center, Respiratory Function Tests, Ventilation-Perfusion Ratio