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J Appl Physiol (1985). 1992 Sep;73(3):894-902.

Changes in afferent and efferent phrenic activities with electrically induced diaphragmatic fatigue.

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  • 1Laboratoire de Physiologie, Unité de Recherche Associée 1330 Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Faculté de Médecine Secteur Nord, Marseille, France.


In anesthetized artificially ventilated cats, diaphragmatic fatigue was produced by direct muscle stimulation with trains of pulses for 30 min. Failure of contraction was assessed from decrease in the maximal relaxation rate of transdiaphragmatic pressure twitches. Motor activities (electromyogram and motor phrenic neurogram) were processed by fast-Fourier transform analysis, which provided the power spectrum density function (PSDF). The discharge frequency of diaphragmatic afferents was also measured. In control conditions (before fatigue), intra-arterial bolus injection of lactic acid enhanced tonically active diaphragmatic afferents, whereas it reduced the firing rate of afferent fibers activated in phase with diaphragmatic contraction or relaxation. The same sensory response pattern was observed with the development of diaphragmatic fatigue. Leftward shift in PSDFs of motor phrenic neurogram also occurred, but it preceded the failure of diaphragmatic contraction as well as the changes in the electromyogram's PSDF and afferent paths, which were closely associated with lengthening of both inspiratory and total breath durations. After section of the phrenic nerves, the motor phrenic response disappeared during the fatigue trial. This demonstrates the existence of complex reflex-induced changes in the ventilatory control during diaphragmatic fatigue. They seem to involve the participation of several types of phrenic afferents.

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