Effect of aminophylline on high-energy phosphate metabolism and fatigue in the diaphragm

T. Ide, D. G. Nichols, J. R. Buck, S. M. Eleff, D. C. Shungu, J. L. Robotham, R. S. Fitzgerald, R. J. Traystman

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14 Scopus citations


Background: Diaphragmatic fatigue causes respiratory failure, for which aminophylline has been used as therapy. Because the mechanism of action of aminophylline in reversing diaphragmatic fatigue is unclear, we used in vive 31P magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) to determine the relation between diaphragmatic activation, force output, and aerobic metabolism. Methods: Bilateral phrenic stimulation was used to pace the diaphragm in pentobarbital-anesthetized piglets (6-10 weeks old; n = 44). Esophageal and abdominal pressures were measured to calculate transdiaphragmatic pressure (Pdi) (Pdi = abdominal pressure - esophageal pressure) as an index of force output. Activation was determined by the amplitude of the compound action potential of the diaphragmatic electromyogram. Aerobic metabolism was assessed with a 31P MRS surface coil on the right hemidiaphragm with the animal in a 4.7-T magnet. The animals were divided into four groups based on aminophylline loading dose: saline, aminophylline 10 mg/kg (A10), aminophylline 20 mg/kg (A20), and aminophylline 40 mg/kg (A40). After aminophylline loading the diaphragm was paced for 25 min followed by a 10- min recovery. Results: Aminophylline concentrations were 12.2 ± 0.7, 21.9 ± 2.4, and 44.9 ± 3.6 mg/l in the A10, A20, and A40 groups, respectively. Compound action potential amplitude decreased in all groups by 30% after 25 min of pacing. Conversely, Pdi remained at 100 ± 3% of the initial value after 5 min of pacing in the A40 group but decreased to 75 ± 3% in the saline group. Pdi recovered completely (103 ± 17%) in the A40 group but remained depressed (72 ± 6%) in the saline group. Pdi values were intermediate in the A10 and A20 groups. MRS data revealed inadequate energy supply/demand ratio in the saline group such that the ratio of inorganic phosphate to phosphocreatine (Pi/PCr) increased to 1.01 ± 0.09 after 5 min of pacing. Pi/PCr remained unchanged in the A40 group and was intermediate in the A10 and A20 groups. β-Adenosine triphosphate and intracellular pH did not differ among groups or as a function of pacing. Diaphragmatic blood flow increased from a resting value of 35-60 to 300-410 ml · min-1 · 100 g- 1 during pacing in all groups and was not affected by aminophylline dose. Conclusions: Aminophylline, in a dose-dependent fashion, delays the onset of fatigue and improves recovery from fatigue. Delayed fatigue is associated with improved aerobic metabolism as reflected in a low Pi/PCr ratio.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)557-567
Number of pages11
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 25 1995


  • Energy metabolism: adenosine triphosphate; inorganic phosphate; intracellular pH; phosphocreatine
  • Ions: calcium
  • Measurement techniques: magnetic resonance spectroscopy
  • Muscle: diaphragm
  • Pharmacology: aminophylline

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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