Free radical induced respiratory muscle dysfunction

Gerald Supinski

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

83 Scopus citations


It is now recognized that respiratory muscle fatigue contributes to the development of respiratory failure in some patients with lung disease. This observation has prompted an examination into the mechanisms of development of muscle fatigue, with the understanding that an elucidation of these processes may lead to new therapeutic approaches to the treatment of these patients. A series of recent studies examining this issue have, moreover, discovered that oxygen-derived free radicals generated during strenuous contraction may modulate respiratory muscle contractile function and contribute to the development of muscle fatigue. The data supporting this concept include: (a) direct (e.g. EPR, ESR studies) and indirect (evidence of lipid peroxidation, protein carbonyl formation, glutathione oxidation) evidence that there is heightened free radical production in contracting muscle, (b) evidence that pharmacologic depletion of muscle antioxidant stores increases degree of muscle fatigue present after a period of exercise, and (c) evidence that administration of agents that act as free radical scavengers retard the development muscle fatigue. Free radicals may produce these changes in muscle force generating capacity by interacting with and altering the function of a number of intracellular-biophysical processes (i.e. sarcolemmal action potential propagation, sarcoplasmic reticulum calcium handling, mitochondrial function, contractile protein interactions).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-110
Number of pages12
JournalMolecular and Cellular Biochemistry
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 1998


  • Calcium
  • Diaphragm
  • Nitric oxide
  • Oxygen-derived free radicals
  • Respiratory muscle fatigue
  • Sarcoplasmic reticulum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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