Responsiveness of the isolated airway during simulated deep inspirations: effect of airway smooth muscle stiffness and strain

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In vivo, breathing movements, including tidal and deep inspirations (DIs), exert a number of beneficial effects on respiratory system responsiveness in healthy humans that are diminished or lost in asthma, possibly as a result of reduced distension (strain) of airway smooth muscle (ASM). We used bronchial segments from pigs to assess airway responsiveness under static conditions and during simulated tidal volume oscillations with and without DI and to determine the roles of airway stiffness and ASM strain on responsiveness. To simulate airway dilations during breathing, we cycled the luminal volume of liquid-filled segments. Volume oscillations (15 cycles/min) were set so that, in relaxed airways, they produced a transmural pressure increase of similar to 5-10 cmH(2)O for tidal maneuvers and similar to 5-30 cmH(2)O for DIs. ACh dose-response curves (10(-7) -3 x 10(-3) M) were constructed under static and dynamic conditions, and maximal response and sensitivity were determined. Airway stiffness was measured from tidal trough-to-peak pressure and volume cycles. ASM strain produced by DI was estimated from luminal volume, airway length, and inner wall area. DIs produced substantial (similar to 40-50%) dilation, reflected by a decrease in maximal response (P < 0.001) and sensitivity (P < 0.05). However, the magnitude of bronchodilation decreased significantly in proportion to airway stiffening caused by contractile activation and an associated reduction in ASM strain. Tidal oscillations, in comparison, had little effect on responsiveness. We conclude that DI regulates airway responsiveness at the airway level, but this is limited by airway stiffness due to reduced ASM strain.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)787-795
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2007


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