Effects of aminophylline, isoproterenol, and neostigmine on hypercapnic depression of diaphragmatic contractility

S. Howell, R. S. Fitzgerald, Ch Roussos

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28 Scopus citations


We investigated the effects of aminophylline, isoproterenol, and neostigmine on decreased diaphragmatic contractility induced by hypercapnia. With the thorax open, the animal receiving mechanical ventilation, and a plaster cast around the abdomen, constant length and geometry of the diaphragm were maintained. Contractility was assessed by analysis of transdiaphragmatic pressure (Pdi) generated during supramaximal phrenic stimulation at different frequencies. Bilateral phrenectomy was performed to prevent spontaneous diaphragm movement. Hypercapnia (Pa(CO2), 85 mmHg) reduced Pdi by 10% at low and high frequencies of stimulation. Subsequently, aminophylline (20 mg/kg) restored Pdi to the control value at every frequency of stimulation (p < 0.05), whereas neostigmine (0.25 and 1.0 mg) restored Pdi at low frequencies only (p < 0.05). Isoproterenol did not improve Pdi at any frequency. Analysis of twitch characteristics revealed that hypercapnia reduced peak twitch amplitude by 17%, this being the underlying cause of the decrease in Pdi. Low and high doses of all 3 drugs significantly reversed this effect by improving peak twitch tension to values equal with or greater than control values (p < 0.05). In addition, aminophylline (40 mg/kg) and neostigmine (0.25 and 1.0 mg) significantly increased time to peak tension of the twitch (p < 0.05) and isoproterenol (5 and 20 μg/min) significantly decreased twitch half relaxation time (p < 0.05). We conclude that aminophylline and neostigmine improve diaphragmatic contractility during hypercapnia by virtue of their potentiating effect on twitch amplitude, whereas isoproterenol does not increase contractility because the process underlying the decrease in twitch duration masks the effect of an improved twitch amplitude.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)241-247
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Review of Respiratory Disease
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1985
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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