Asthma. Tracheobronchial vasculature

Br Med Bull. 1992 Jan;48(1):108-19. doi: 10.1093/oxfordjournals.bmb.a072528.


The tracheobronchial vasculature consists of a subepithelial capillary network and a deeper system of blood sinuses or capacitance vessels. There seem to be no arteriovenous anastomoses. Sympathetic nerves constrict the vasculature by the transmitters noradrenaline and neuropeptide-Y, parasympathetic nerves dilate it by acetylcholine and vasoactive intestinal polypeptide, and sensory nerves release neuropeptides including substance P that are dilator. Most inflammatory mediators are also vasodilator. In asthma there is mucosal vasodilation due to the direct action of mediators on vascular smooth muscle, neuropeptides released by axon reflexes in sensory nerve receptors, and possibly reflex vasodilation due to stimulation of sensory nerves. The vasodilation increases the thickness of the mucosa, both by vascular engorgement and by increased interstitial liquid volume. This mucosal thickening will narrow the airways and increase the rigidity of their walls. The vascular bed is also dilated by cold and hyperosmolality, and this change may be a component of the bronchoconstriction due to hyperventilation, inhalation of cold air and exercise. Changes in mucosal blood flow influence the uptake of chemical agents from the lumen, and the success of aerosol therapy in asthma may to some extent depend upon the influence of mucosal blood flow.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Asthma / physiopathology*
  • Bronchi / blood supply*
  • Bronchi / innervation
  • Dogs
  • Humans
  • Regional Blood Flow
  • Sheep
  • Trachea / blood supply*
  • Trachea / innervation