Previous work in our laboratory has shown that respiratory acidosis (RA) impaired mechanical function in canine tracheal smooth muscle (TSM). Since an intracellular acidosis could be brought on by the increased CO2 content of the bathing medium and alter the Km's of rate-limiting glycolytic enzymes in the pathway of energy production for contractile function, we have investigated the effects of RA on the intracellular pH (pHi) of TSM. Using the DMO method, paired unstimulated or resting TSM strips were incubated under normocapnic conditions (PO2 600 Torr, PCO2 40 Torr, pH 7.40) and RA (PO2 550 Torr, PCO2 110 Torr, pH 6.95) with 14C-labeled DMO and 3H-labeled inulin or PEG-4000. In another set of paired experiments, TSM strips were tetanized electrically every 5 min or pharmacologically throughout the incubation period (“active” muscle strips). The tissue and an aliquot of bathing medium were counted for 3H and 14C content and the values entered into the Wadell and Butler equation. The pHi's of “resting” normocapnic and acidotic strips were 7.041 +/- 0.017 (SE) and 6.752 +/- 0.012, respectively. However, the pHi's of “active” normocapnic and acidotic strips were 7.275 +/- 0.017 and 7.017 +/- 0.015, respectively. We conclude that respiratory acidosis lowers intracellular pH in both resting and mechanically active TSM's; however, “active” preparations whether exposed to normocapnia or acidosis were unexpectedly more alkaline than their “resting” counterparts.
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