Effect of respiratory muscle weakness on P0.1 induced by partial curarization

R. H. Holle, R. B. Schoene, E. J. Pavlin


Mouth occlusion pressure 0.1 s after onset of inspiration (P0.1) reflects central respiratory drive (CRD), but its dependence on respiratory muscle strength is unknown. To clarify this relationship, we produced progressive levels of respiratory muscle weakness by infusion of d-tubocurarine in eight supine spontaneously breathing normal subjects. Hypercapnic ventilatory response (HCVR) was measured before curarization and at mild (mean inspiratory effort 62 +/- 3% of control), moderate (42 +/- 3%), and severe (23 +/- 1%) weakness. At the severe level of weakness 1) supine functional residual capacity was not significantly changed from base line, 2) the percent of base-line slope of delta P0.1/delta PCO2 (122 +/- 27%) was significantly greater (P less than 0.01) than that for change in expired minute ventilation (delta VE)/delta PCO2 (39 +/- 10%), 3) the percent of base-line delta P0.1/delta VE (381 +/- 46%) during HCVR was significantly increased (P less than 0.01), 4) the P0.1 response was significantly increased from base line at two out of three specific levels of PCO2 while the VE was unchanged or significantly decreased, and 5) peak inspiratory resistance did not significantly change. Thus P0.1, unlike VE, did not decrease with even severe respiratory muscle weakness. Indeed, P0.1 increased at two out of three levels of PCO2 under circumstances when higher CRD is expected. One potential explanation for the results is that P0.1 may at least qualitatively reflect CRD up to the level of severe respiratory muscle weakness attained in this study.