We have previously shown that contraction of the gracilis muscles of anesthetized dogs reflexly relaxes tracheal smooth muscle. We have also found that electrical stimulation of these afferents decreases total pulmonary resistance (TPR), a calculation that provides a functional index of airway caliber. Despite these findings, we have yet to show that muscular contraction reflexly decreases TPR. Therefore, in 11 α-chloralose-anesthetized dogs, we contracted the hindlimb muscles by electrically stimulating the L6-L7 ventral roots while measuring TPR breath by breath. We found that static contraction decreased TPR from 12.6 ± 1.1 to 10.4 ± 0.9 cmH2O·1-1·s (P<0.05). This decrease was reflex in origin because it was prevented by section of the spinal roots innervating the working hindlimb. Repetitive twitch contractions (5 Hz) also reflexly decreased TPR, but the effect was smaller than that evoked by static contraction. The reflex decreases in TPR evoked by contraction were unaffected by propranolol but were abolished by atropine. We conclude that muscular contraction dilates the airways by a reflex mechanism whose efferent arm consists of a withdrawal of cholinergic input to airway smooth muscle.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physiology (medical)