Mechanisms of airway smooth muscle relaxation during maturation.
Greater airway responsiveness in healthy juveniles is considered a factor in the higher asthma prevalence at a young age compared with adults. We have developed a guinea pig maturational model that utilizes tracheal strips from 1-week-, 3-week-, and 3-month-old guinea pigs to study the role of airway smooth muscle (ASM) in juvenile airway hyperresponsiveness. Because a reduced ability of ASM to spontaneously relax may contribute to airway hyperresponsiveness by maintaining bronchospasm and thus high airway resistance, we have employed this model to study ASM spontaneous relaxation during electrical field stimulation (EFS). Since relaxation during EFS had been neither described nor quantified during maturation, we developed new indices that allowed an appropriate comparison of the relaxing response from strips of different age animals. Using these indices we found that, whereas strips from adult animals relax to a level of tension similar to that found in the absence of stimulation, this ability to spontaneously relax is essentially absent in trachealis from infant animals. These results confirmed that maturation of ASM relaxation may play a role in juvenile airway hyperresponsiveness and that our maturational model is suitable to study the mechanisms regulating spontaneous relaxation in physiological conditions. We investigated the role of prostanoids in ASM relaxation and showed that cyclooxygenase inhibition increases relaxation in infant ASM to levels similar to adults. These results suggest that prostanoids regulate the ability of ASM to spontaneously relax, i.e., they reduce relaxation. We have produced preliminary data suggesting a maturational change in the level of prostanoids. Moreover, the possible action of acetylcholinesterase on maturation of ASM relaxation is discussed here on the basis of a preliminary study. We suggest that impairment of ASM relaxation likely contributes to increased airway responsiveness.
Chitano, P; Wang, L; Murphy, TM
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