Failure of vasodilator administration to increase blood flow to the fatiguing diaphragm

G. S. Supinski, D. Stofan, E. Nashawati, A. F. DiMarco

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4 Scopus citations


Recent studies have suggested that coronary and limb muscle vessels do not maximally vasodilate under conditions in which cardiac and limb muscle contractile function is dependent on the level of blood flow but, rather, maintain a 'vasodilator reserve.' If a vasodilator reserve is also present in the fatiguing diaphragm, it may be possible to augment flow to this muscle with vasodilator administration, improving muscle function. The purpose of the present study was therefore to examine the effect of administration of a potent vasodilator, nitroprusside, on the blood flow and contractile function of the fatiguing diaphragm. Studies were performed using an in situ canine diaphragmatic strip preparation that permitted direct measurement of force and blood flow; cardiac output was monitored with a thermodilution catheter. The effects of nitroprusside were examined with the diaphragm rhythmically contracting in response to both subfatiguing and fatiguing stimulation paradigms. For both contraction paradigms, nitroprusside infusions elicited appreciable increases in cardiac output. Nitroprusside infusions also produced significant increases in diaphragmatic blood flow during subfatiguing diaphragmatic contractions but had no effect on flow during fatiguing contractions. Nitroprusside also had no effect on the rate of diaphragmatic fatigue. These data suggest that, under the conditions examined, the diaphragm exhausts its vasodilator reserve during the development of fatigue and vasodilator administration has no appreciable effect on diaphragm blood flow and function. Moreover, although vasodilator drugs with actions similar to nitroprusside are used clinically to augment flow to vital organs, our data would indicate that these drugs have no functionally significant effect on blood flow to the fatiguing diaphragm.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1178-1185
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1993


  • skeletal muscle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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