Effects of intraphrenic injection of potassium on diaphragm activation

G. S. Supinski, T. Dick, D. Stofan, A. F. DiMarco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The purpose of the present study was to determine whether potassium, injected into the arterial supply of the diaphragm, would reflexly alter efferent diaphragmatic motor outflow and systemic arterial pressure. Studies were performed using in situ canine diaphragm muscle strips in which the inferior phrenic artery and vein were cannulated and all other sources of strip blood flow were ligated. Injection of potassium (0.1 meq) into the inferior phrenic artery elicited a small transient (1-2 breaths) decrease in the peak strip tension developed during spontaneous muscle contractions, in peak integrated strip electromyographic (EMG) activity, and in the peak integrated EMG activity of the contralateral hemidiaphragm. This was followed by a more pronounced and more sustained increase in each of these parameters as well as an increase in systemic arterial pressure. This latter excitatory response was qualitatively similar to that induced by the injection of capsaicin (5 and 25 μg) into the phrenic artery. Section of the left phrenic nerve abolished the effects of intra-arterial potassium and capsaicin on systemic arterial pressure and right hemidiaphragm EMG activity. These data support the existence of a potent excitatory phrenic-to-phrenic reflex that can be activated by potassium injection into the diaphragm. Activation of this pathway increases diaphragm motor activation and augments systemic arterial pressure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1186-1194
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1993


  • capsaicin
  • muscle blood flow
  • skeletal muscle
  • tension development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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