In 23 dogs anesthetized with chloralose and urethan, we developed a preparation that premitted measurement of isometric tension in segments of the tracheal posterior membrane in situ. Length-tension studies showed an optimal length for contraction in each of 5 segments; in all 5 segments, length was optimal when resting tension was 22-35 g/cm. In 8 other segments, stimuli were delivered by systemic intravenous injections, by electrical stimulation of nerves, or by selective injections into the tracheal circulation; the time between delivery of repeated stimuli required for reproducible responses differed for each form of stimulation. Hypoxemia increased tension by 23.1 ± 5.5 (SE) g/cm in 10 out of 10 other segments; these increases were the results of reflexes, not direct effects. Because the innervation and vascular supply of these segments were largely intact, we concluded that this preparation permits the study of neurohumoral mechanisms which modulate smooth muscle contraction in a prototypic central airway in vivo.
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