The action on the lung of interosseous intercostal muscles located in the third and the seventh interspaces was studied in 15 anesthetized-curarized supine dogs. Changes in pleural pressure, airflow rate, and lung volume produced by maximal stimulation of both intercostal muscle layers were measured at and above functional residual capacity (FRC). In five animals measurements were also obtained during isolated stimulation of the internal layer. At FRC, intercostal stimulation in the upper interspaces had invariably an inspiratory effect on the lung but no effect was detectable in the lower interspaces. Qualitatively similar results were obtained during isolated stimulation of the internal layer. Increasing lung volume reduced the inspiratory action of the upper intercostals and conferred an expiratory action to the lower intercostals. These results indicate the following: 1) when contracting in a single interspace, the external and internal intercostals have a qualitatively similar action on the lung; and 2) this action, however, depends critically on their location along the cephalocaudal axis of the rib cage: in the upper portion of the rib cage, both muscle layers have an inspiratory effect at and above FRC; in the lower portion of the rib cage, they have no respiratory action at FRC and act in the expiratory direction at higher lung volumes.
- Copyright © 1991 the American Physiological Society