Airway responsiveness is exaggerated in infancy and declines with maturation. These age-related differences (R.S. Tepper, T. Du, A. Styhler, M. Ludwig, and J.G. Martin. Am. J. Respir. Crit. Care Med. 151: 836-840, 1995; R.S. Tepper, S.J. Gunst, C.M. Doerschuk, Y. Shen, and W. Bray. J. Appl. Physiol. 78: 505-512, 1995; R.S. Teppel, J. Stevens, and H. Eigen. Am. J. Respir. Crit. Care Med. 149: 678-681, 1994) could be due to changes in the smooth muscle, the lung, and/or the airway wall. Folding of the mucosal membrane can provide an elastic load (R.K. Lambert, J. Appl. Physiol. 71: 666-673, 1991), which impedes smooth muscle shortening. We hypothesized that increased stiffness of the mucosal membrane occurs during aging, causing an increased mechanical load on airway smooth muscle and a decrease in airway responsiveness. Forty female New Zealand White rabbits between 0.75 and 35 mo of age were studied. Rectangular mucosal membrane strips oriented both longitudinally and circumferentially to the long axis of the trachea were dissected, and the stress-strain relationships of each strip were tested. The results showed that the membrane was stiffer in the longitudinal than in the circumferential direction of the airway. However, there was no significant change with age in either orientation. We conclude that the mechanical properties of the airway mucosal membrane did not change during maturation and were not likely to influence age-related changes in airway responsiveness.
- Bronchial constriction
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
- Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation