Airway closure with high PEEP in vivo

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21 Scopus citations


When airway smooth muscle is contracted in vitro, the airway lumen continues to narrow with increasing concentrations of agonist until complete airway closure occurs. Although there remains some controversy regarding whether airways can close in vivo, recent work has clearly demonstrated that, if the airway is sufficiently stimulated with contractile agonists, complete closure of even large cartilaginous conducting airways can readily occur with the lung at functional residual capacity (Brown RH and Mitzner W. J Appl Physiol 85: 2012-2017, 1998). This result suggests that the tethering of airways in situ by parenchymal attachments is small at functional residual capacity. However, at lung volumes above functional residual capacity, the outward tethering of airways should increase, because both the parenchymal shear modulus and tethering forces increase in proportion to the transpulmonary pressure. In the present study, we tested whether we could prevent airway closure in vivo by increasing lung volume with positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP). Airway smooth muscle was stimulated with increasing methacholine doses delivered directly to airway smooth muscle at three levels of PEEP (0, 6, and 10 cmH2O). Our results show that increased lung volume shifted the airway methacholine dose-response curve to the right, but, in many airways in most animals, airway closure still occurred even at the highest levels of PEEP.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)956-960
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of applied physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2000


  • Airway smooth muscle
  • Asthma
  • Deep inspiration
  • Maximal responsiveness
  • Positive endexpiratory pressure
  • Pulmonary interdependence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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