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J Appl Physiol (1985). 1990 Jul;69(1):120-6.

Contractile properties of bronchial smooth muscle with and without cartilage.

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Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada.


The majority of in vitro studies on airway smooth muscle have used the trachealis (TSM) as a convenient substitute for muscle from airways that constitute the flow-limiting segment. The latter are technically difficult to work with. However, because the site of maximum resistance to airflow is at the third to seventh generations of the bronchial tree, the trachealis preparation is of limited value. Length-tension and force-velocity properties were therefore studied at optimal length (lo) of canine bronchial smooth muscle (BSM) from which cartilage had been carefully removed. Normalized maximum isometric tension or stress (Po x 10(4) N/m2) for BSM was 7.1 +/- 0.19 (SE), which was similar to that of BSM with cartilage (BSM+C, 6.8 +/- 0.21) but lower than for TSM (18.2 +/- 0.81). At length greater than lo, the BSM+C was stiffer than the BSM. The values of maximum shortening capacity (delta Lmax), obtained directly from isotonic shortening at a load equal to the resting tension at lo, were 0.76 lo +/- 0.03, 0.41 lo +/- 0.02, and 0.24 +/- 0.02 lo for TSM, BSM, and BSM+C, respectively. The BSM and BSM+C delta Lmaxs were different (P less than 0.05). Maximal shortening velocities (Vo) for BSM, elicited at 2, 4, and 8 s by quick release in the course of an isometric contraction were significantly higher than for the BSM+C. Vos showed gradual decreases in all three groups in the later phase of contraction, suggesting the operation of latch bridges.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

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