Quantitative measurement of smooth muscle shortening in isolated pig trachea

J Appl Physiol (1985). 1987 Oct;63(4):1360-5. doi: 10.1152/jappl.1987.63.4.1360.


Matched porcine tracheal rings were exposed to theophylline and increasing doses of carbachol in Krebs solution. Histological sections of each ring were traced and each of the following dimensions measured: the external perimeter (Pe) and external area (Ae) defined by the outer border of smooth muscle and inner surface of cartilage, and the internal perimeter (Pi) and internal area (Ai) defined by the luminal surface of the epithelium and the muscle length (L) along its outer border. Absolute wall area (WA = Ae - Ai) and relative wall area (PW = WA/Ae) were calculated. Carbachol-treated tracheal ring dimensions were compared with those of their matched theophylline-treated rings. In tracheal rings with intact cartilage, maximal smooth muscle shortening of 44% was achieved with 10(-2) M carbachol. In tracheal rings in which anterior and posterior segments of cartilage were excised, the trachealis muscle passively shortened by 20% and maximal shortening (10(-3) M carbachol) was 57%. Although Ai decreased with maximal smooth muscle shortening, there were no changes in the length of Pi or in WA. These data show that the cartilage in the porcine trachea exerts both a preload that passively stretches the trachealis muscle and an afterload that limits maximal smooth muscle shortening.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Airway Resistance / drug effects*
  • Animals
  • Carbachol / pharmacology
  • Cartilage / physiology
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Mathematics
  • Muscle Contraction / drug effects*
  • Muscle, Smooth / drug effects*
  • Swine
  • Theophylline / pharmacology
  • Trachea / drug effects


  • Carbachol
  • Theophylline