Effect of lung volume on the respiratory action of the canine pectoral muscles

J Appl Physiol (1985). 1992 Dec;73(6):2408-12. doi: 10.1152/jappl.1992.73.6.2408.


Lung volume influences the mechanical action of the primary inspiratory and expiratory muscles by affecting their precontraction length, alignment with the rib cage, and mechanical coupling to agonistic and antagonistic muscles. We have previously shown that the canine pectoral muscles exert an expiratory action on the rib cage when the forelimbs are at the torso's side and an inspiratory action when the forelimbs are held elevated. To determine the effect of lung volume on intrathoracic pressure changes produced by the canine pectoral muscles, we performed isolated bilateral supramaximal electrical stimulation of the deep pectoral and superficial pectoralis (descending and transverse heads) muscles in 15 adult supine anesthetized dogs during hyperventilation-induced apnea. Lung volume was altered by application of a negative or positive pressure (+/- 30 cmH2O) to the airway. In all animals, selective electrical stimulation of the descending, transverse, and deep pectoral muscles with the forelimbs held elevated produced negative intrathoracic pressure changes (i.e., an inspiratory action). Moreover, with the forelimbs elevated, increasing lung volume decreased both pectoral muscle fiber precontraction length and the negative intrathoracic pressure changes generated by contraction of each of these muscles. Conversely, with the forelimbs along the torso, increasing lung volume lengthened pectoral muscle precontraction length and augmented the positive intrathoracic pressure changes produced by muscle contraction (i.e., an expiratory action). These results indicate that lung volume significantly affects the length of the canine pectoral muscles and their mechanical actions on the rib cage.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dogs
  • Electrodes
  • Forelimb / physiology
  • Lung / anatomy & histology*
  • Lung / physiology
  • Lung Volume Measurements
  • Respiratory Mechanics / physiology*
  • Respiratory Muscles / cytology
  • Respiratory Muscles / physiology*