Chronic inflation of ferret lungs with CPAP reduces airway smooth muscle contractility in vivo and in vitro

J Appl Physiol (1985). 2008 Mar;104(3):610-5. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00241.2007. Epub 2007 Dec 20.


The mechanical stress imposed on the lungs during breathing is an important modulator of airway responsiveness in vivo. Our recent study demonstrated that continuous positive airway pressure applied to the lungs of nonanesthetized, tracheotomized rabbits for 4 days decreased lower respiratory system responsiveness to challenge with ACh (Xue Z, Zhang L, Ramchandani R, Liu Y, Antony VB, Gunst SJ, Tepper RS. J. Appl Physiol 99: 677-682, 2005). In addition, airway segments excised from the lungs of these animals and studied in vitro exhibited reduced contractility. However, the mechanism for this reduction in contractility was not determined. The stress-induced decrease in airway responsiveness could have resulted from alterations in the excitation-contraction coupling mechanisms of the smooth muscle cells, or it might reflect changes in the structure and/or composition of the airway wall tissues. In the present study, we assessed the effect of prolonged chronic stress of the lungs in vivo on airway smooth muscle force generation, myosin light chain phosphorylation, and airway wall structure. To enhance the potential development of stress-induced structural changes, we applied mechanical stress for a prolonged period of time of 2-3 wk. Our results demonstrate a direct connection between the decreased airway responsiveness caused by chronic mechanical stress of the lungs in vivo and a persistent decrease in contractile protein activation in the airway smooth muscle isolated from those lungs. The chronic stress also caused an increase in airway size but no detectable changes in the composition of the airway wall.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholine / administration & dosage
  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Airway Resistance* / drug effects
  • Animals
  • Bronchial Provocation Tests
  • Bronchoconstrictor Agents / administration & dosage
  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Ferrets
  • Lung / diagnostic imaging
  • Lung / drug effects
  • Lung / metabolism
  • Lung / physiopathology*
  • Methacholine Chloride / administration & dosage
  • Muscle Contraction* / drug effects
  • Muscle Strength
  • Muscle, Smooth / diagnostic imaging
  • Muscle, Smooth / drug effects
  • Muscle, Smooth / metabolism
  • Muscle, Smooth / physiopathology*
  • Myosin Light Chains / metabolism
  • Phosphorylation
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Time Factors
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Trachea / diagnostic imaging
  • Trachea / drug effects
  • Trachea / metabolism
  • Trachea / physiopathology*
  • Trachea / surgery


  • Bronchoconstrictor Agents
  • Myosin Light Chains
  • Methacholine Chloride
  • Acetylcholine