Background: A recent study showed that inhaled furosemide greatly improves experimentally induced dyspnea in humans. The objective of the current study is to test the hypothesis that inhaled furosemide suppresses the behavioral response to airway occlusion without changing the behavioral response to a somatic noxious stimulus in anesthetized animals.
Methods: In 10 spontaneously breathing cats anesthetized with isoflurane, anesthetic ED(50) was determined by measuring an end-tidal anesthetic concentration while observing escape behavior. The monitored behavior consisted of purposeful movement of the head and forearm after endotracheal tube occlusion. The duration from the start of airway occlusion to the onset of the positive response (DOCCL) was measured at the highest concentration of isoflurane permitting the positive motor response to airway occlusion before pretreatment. ED(50) values (minimum alveolar concentration) for the suppression of a somatic motor response to a noxious stimulus induced by toe pinch (toe-pinch ED(50)) were also determined. Then, the effects of inhaled furosemide or vehicle on the ED(50) for the suppression of the behavioral response to airway occlusion, DOCCL, and toe-pinch ED(50) were evaluated in a randomized, cross-over design.
Results: The ED(50) for the suppression of the behavioral response to airway occlusion significantly decreased (P < 0.01) and DOCCL was significantly prolonged (P < 0.01) after furosemide inhalation, whereas vehicle inhalation did not change these measurements. The decrease in ED(50) for the suppression of the behavioral response to airway occlusion after furosemide inhalation lasted 3 h. Furosemide inhalation did not affect the toe-pinch ED(50).
Conclusion: Inhaled furosemide suppressed the behavioral response to airway occlusion in anesthetized animals without affecting the response to somatic noxious stimulus. The authors' animal model of respiratory distress may be applicable to the study of dyspnea in regard to its mechanism and treatment.