American review of respiratory disease vol:144 issue:6 pages:1250-1255
To distinguish the effects of theophylline on respiratory muscle contractility from alterations in respiratory muscle interaction or blood flow, we examined in vitro contractile properties and fatigue of canine diaphragm in two series of experiments. In the first series, a 40-mg/kg aminophylline infusion was given to dogs, and diaphragm strips were removed for in vitro study when stable tissue fixation of the drug was reached. Compared with control bundles examined before aminophylline infusion, no alterations in twitch tension, tetanic tension, or force-frequency characteristics were observed. Moreover, theophylline-treated strips fatigued faster than control strips, whether subjected to repetitive submaximal or maximal contractions (p < 0.01). In the second series, diaphragm bundles were equilibrated with high theophylline doses (400 mg/L) in vitro, and inotropic effects compared with the results in the first series. Supratherapeutic theophylline concentrations increased force development at low stimulation frequencies (p < 0.05 at 10 Hz) and significantly elevated twitch-tetanus ratio (p < 0.01) but did not protect against development of in vitro muscle fatigue. Poor penetration of theophylline in diaphragm bundles in vitro was excluded, since drug concentrations in the muscle bundle and the muscle bath were virtually equal. We conclude that diaphragmatic tissue concentrations correlate well with therapeutic serum and supratherapeutic bath levels and that only high theophylline concentrations increase canine diaphragmatic contractility in vitro. None of the theophylline concentrations studied could protect diaphragm bundles against the development of low- or high-frequency fatigue in vitro.