European Respiratory Journal vol:20 issue:6 pages:1579-1586
The pathophysiological mechanisms of weaning from mechanical ventilation are not fully known, but there is accumulating evidence that mechanical ventilation induces inspiratory muscle dysfunction. Recently, several animal models have provided potential mechanisms for mechanical ventilation-induced effects on muscle function. In patients, weaning difficulties are associated with inspiratory muscle weakness and reduced endurance capacity. Animal studies demonstrated that diaphragm force was already decreased after 12 h of controlled mechanical ventilation and this worsened with time spent on the ventilator. Diaphragmatic myofibril damage observed after 3-days controlled mechanical ventilation was inversely correlated with maximal diaphragmatic force. Downregulation of the diaphragm insulin-like growth factor-I and MyoD/myogenin messenger ribonucleic acid occurred after 24 h and diaphragmatic oxidative stress and increased protease activity after 18 h. In keeping with these findings, diaphragm fibre atrophy was shown after 12 h and reduced diaphragm mass was reported after 48 h of controlled mechanical ventilation. These animal studies show that early alterations in diaphragm function develop after short-term mechanical ventilation. These alterations may contribute to the difficulties in weaning from mechanical ventilation seen in patients. Strategies to preserve respiratory muscle mass and function during mechanical ventilation should be developed. These may include: adaptation of medication, training of the diaphragm, stabilisation of the catabolic state and pharmacotherapy.