Recent studies suggest a significant contribution of the pulmonary circulation to the perfusion of large airways. In this study we used anesthetized ventilated sheep (n = 19) to determine the functional contribution of the pulmonary circulation to airway smooth muscle. We performed sequential intravenous challenge with methacholine chloride (MCh; 0.25-2.5 mg/ml) to determine airway resistance (Raw) changes in the intact animal, after bronchial artery cannulation that essentially removed bronchial arterial delivery of MCh, and in an isolated lung preparation. After blocking the vagal reflex component of this response, we found that intravenous MCh in the intact preparation resulted in an average 2.2 ± 0.5 cmH2O · l-1 · s increase (181%) in Raw. After prevention of bronchial arterial delivery of MCh, Raw increased by 0.8 ± 0.3 cmH2O · l-1 · s (64%; P < 0.01 compared with intact preparation). In the isolated lung preparation, Raw increased by 0.6 ± 0.2 cmH2O · l-1 · s (63%; P < 0.01 compared with intact preparation). These results demonstrate that in sheep, the bronchial artery provides the major route for delivery of intravenously administered agonists to airway smooth muscle. Considering the large dilutional effect of an intravenously administered agonist by the time it reaches the bronchial artery, we conclude that the pulmonary component of agonist delivery to large airways is <10% and unlikely to play a major physiological role.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physiology (medical)