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Effects of temperature, relative humidity, and mode of breathing on canine airway secretions.


Airway secretions were collected from the upper trachea of eight healthy nosebreathing mongrel dogs under general anesthesia, and the electrolytes and osmolality of these secretions were determined. Compared to plasma, secretions contained 15% higher Na+ and 33% higher Cl-, were 18% higher in osmolality, but had a lower Na+/Cl- throughout the 6-h experiments. When six nose-breathing dogs were exposed to air at 28.5 degrees C and 95% relative humidity, secretion osmolality became lower, but Na+/Cl- remained unchanged. In four other dogs, secretions approached the osmolality of plasma when inspired air was at 36.4 degrees C and 100% relative humidity. These secretions contained 22% higher Cl- and a lower Na+/Cl- than plasma. The differences between airway secretions and interstitial fluid suggest that secretions are formed by active Cl- transport. In another four dogs, secretion osmolality was higher with mouth breathing than breathing through the nose. Inasmuch as humidified and warmed air lowered and mouth breathing raised the osmolality of airway secretions, we postulate that the hyperosmolality of secretions results from water loss from the airway surface during conditioning of inspired air.

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