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Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 2005 Oct;83(10):817-24.

A maturational model for the study of airway smooth muscle adaptation to mechanical oscillation.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710, USA.


It has been shown that mechanical stretches imposed on airway smooth muscle (ASM) by deep inspiration reduce the subsequent contractile response of the ASM. This passive maneuver of lengthening and retraction of the muscle is beneficial in normal subjects to counteract bronchospasm. However, it is detrimental to hyperresponsive airways because it triggers further bronchoconstriction. Although the exact mechanisms for this contrary response by normal and hyperresponsive airways are unclear, it has been suggested that the phenomenon is related to changes in ASM adaptability to mechanical oscillation. Healthy immature airways of both human and animal exhibit hyperresponsiveness, but whether the adaptative properties of hyperresponsive airway differ from normal is still unknown. In this article, we review the phenomenon of ASM adaptation to mechanical oscillation and its relevance and implication to airway hyperresponsiveness. We demonstrate that the age-specific expression of ASM adaptation is prominent using an established maturational animal model developed in our laboratory. Our data on immature ASM showed potentiated contractile force shortly after a length oscillation compared with the maximum force generated before oscillation. Several potential mechanisms such as myogenic response, changes in actin polymerization, or changes in the quantity of the cytoskeletal regulatory proteins plectin and vimentin, which may underlie this age-specific force potentiation, are discussed. We suggest a working model of the structure of smooth muscle associated with force transmission, which may help to elucidate the mechanisms responsible for the age-specific expression of smooth muscle adaptation. It is important to study the maturational profile of ASM adaptation as it could contribute to juvenile hyperresponsiveness.

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