Influence of lung volume on oxygen cost of resistive breathing

J Appl Physiol (1985). 1986 Jul;61(1):16-24. doi: 10.1152/jappl.1986.61.1.16.


We examined the relationship between the O2 cost of breathing (VO2 resp) and lung volume at constant load, ventilation, work rate, and pressure-time product in five trained normal subjects breathing through an inspiratory resistance at functional residual capacity (FRC) and when lung volume (VL) was increased to 37 +/- 2% (mean +/- SE) of inspiratory capacity (high VL). High VL was maintained using continuous positive airway pressure of 9 +/- 2 cmH2O and with the subjects coached to relax during expiration to minimize respiratory muscle activity. Six paired runs were performed in each subject at constant tidal volume (0.62 +/- 0.2 liters), frequency (23 +/- 1 breaths/min), inspiratory flow rate (0.45 +/- 0.1 l/s), and inspiratory muscle pressure (45 +/- 2% of maximum static pressure at FRC). VO2 resp increased from 109 +/- 15 ml/min at FRC by 41 +/- 11% at high VL (P less than 0.05). Thus the efficiency of breathing at high VL (3.9 +/- 0.2%) was less than that at FRC (5.2 +/- 0.3%, P less than 0.01). The decrease in inspiratory muscle efficiency at high VL may be due to changes in mechanical coupling, in the pattern of recruitment of the respiratory muscles, or in the intrinsic properties of the inspiratory muscles at shorter length. When the work of breathing at high VL was normalized for the decrease in maximum inspiratory muscle pressure with VL, efficiency at high VL (5.2 +/- 0.3%) did not differ from that at FRC (P less than 0.7), suggesting that the fall in efficiency may have been related to the fall in inspiratory muscle strength. During acute hyperinflation the decreased efficiency contributes to the increased O2 cost of breathing and may contribute to the diminished inspiratory muscle endurance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Functional Residual Capacity
  • Humans
  • Lung / physiology*
  • Male
  • Oxygen Consumption*
  • Tidal Volume
  • Time Factors
  • Vital Capacity
  • Work of Breathing*