The glomus cell is not to be confused with the glomus body found in the dermis layer of the skin.
A glomus cell (type I) is a peripheral chemoreceptor, mainly located in the carotid bodies and aortic bodies, that helps the body regulate breathing. When there is a decrease in the blood's pH, a decrease in oxygen (pO2), or an increase in carbon dioxide (pCO2), the carotid bodies and the aortic bodies signal the medulla oblongata (specifically the dorsal inspiratory center in the medulla oblongata) to increase the volume and rate of breathing. The glomus cells have a high metabolic rate and good blood perfusion and thus are sensitive to changes in arterial blood gas tension. Glomus cells are very similar structurally to neurons, and they are indeed derived from the neural crest, while the glomus cells of type II are similar in function to neuroglia.
Clusters of glomus cells, of which the carotid bodies and aortic bodies are the most important, are called non-chromaffin or parasympathetic paraganglia. They are also present along the vagus nerve, in the inner ears, in the lungs, and at other sites. Neoplasms of glomus cells are known as paraganglioma, among other names, they are generally non-malignant.
^Oxygen sensing : responses and adaptation to Hypoxia. New York: Dekker. 2003. pp. 200, 232. ISBN0824709608.
^Pearse, AG; Polak, JM; Rost, FW; Fontaine, J; Le Lièvre, C; Le Douarin, N (1973). "Demonstration of the neural crest origin of type I (APUD) cells in the avian carotid body, using a cytochemical marker system". Histochemie. Histochemistry. Histochimie34 (3): 191–203. doi:10.1007/bf00303435. PMID4693636.