The aim of this study was to determine whether hypocapnia causes bronchoconstriction by releasing tachykinins (TKs) from C-afferent nerves in airways. Hypocapnia-induced bronchoconstriction (HIBC) was induced in anesthetized vagotomized guinea pigs by ventilating lungs with a heated humidified hypocapnic gas mixture for 15 min after sudden circulatory arrest. The intensity of bronchoconstriction was assessed by calculating changes in dynamic compliance and by measuring the relaxation lung volume at the completion of experiments. Visualization of the airways by tantalum bronchography showed constriction of segmental bronchi with relative sparing of more proximal airways. Hypocapnia-induced bronchoconstriction was prevented by prior administration of salbutamol aerosol. Three experimental interventions were used to investigate the role of TKs in HIBC; 1) repeated capsaicin injections to deplete airway sensory nerves of TKs, 2) treatment with phosphoramidon, an inhibitor of enkephalinase, the main enzyme responsible for TK inactivation, and 3) topical airway anesthesia. Capsaicin pretreatment markedly attenuated the hypocapnia-induced changes in dynamic compliance (P < 0.0005) and relaxation lung volume (P < 0.0002), whereas phosphoramidon augmented these changes (P < 0.02, P < 0.03, respectively). Topical anesthesia of airways with lignocaine postponed the onset of bronchoconstriction, whereas the longer-acting, more lipid-soluble local anesthetic, bupivacaine, almost completely prevented HIBC. We conclude that, in the guinea pig lung, HIBC is mediated by TKs that are released after the activation of bronchial axonal reflexes.
- Airway local anesthesia
- Axonal reflex