Effect of elastase-induced emphysema on the force-generating ability of the diaphragm

G. S. Supinski, S. G. Kelsen

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81 Scopus citations


The effect of emphysema on the ability of the diaphragm to generate force was examined in costal diaphragm muscle strips from 10 Golden hamsters killed 18 mo after intratracheal injection of pancreatic elastase in a dose producing hyperinflation (mean total lung capacity [TLC] = 163% of control) and generalized panacinar emphysema. Thirteen saline-injected normal animals served as controls. The time course of isometric tension and the effect of alterations in muscle fiber and sarcomere length on the isometric tension (T) generated in response to tetanizing electrical stimuli (length-tension [L-T] relationship) were examined. Elastase administration caused an increase in diaphragm muscle thickness and reduction in the length of costal diaphragm muscle fibers measured in situ. Emphysema significantly increased the maximum tetanic tension as a result of hypertrophy. Maximal tension corrected for increases in muscle cross-sectional area (T/cm2), however, was the same in emphysematous (E) and control (C) animals. Emphysema also shifted the muscle fiber L-T curve of the diaphragm but not of a control muscle, the soleus, toward shorter lengths. In contrast to the effects of E on the diaphragm muscle fiber L-T curve, the sarcomere L-T curve was the same in E and C. Since the length at which tension was maximal correlated closely with sarcomere number (r = 0.94; P < 0.001) reduction in the number of sarcomeres in series in muscles from emphysematous animals appeared to explain the shift in the muscle fiber L-T curve. We conclude that in elastase-induced emphysema adaptive changes both in diaphragm cross-sectional area and sarcomere number augment the force-generating ability of the diaphragm. We speculate that changes in sarcomere number compensate for alterations in muscle fiber length resulting from chronic hyperinflation of the thorax, while diaphragmatic muscle hypertrophy represents a response to changes in respiratory load and/or diaphragm configuration (LaPlace relationship).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)978-988
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Clinical Investigation
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1982

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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