• Subcellular adaptation of the human diaphragm in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Subcellular adaptation of the human diaphragm in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The European respiratory journal (1999-03-05)
M Orozco-Levi, J Gea, J L Lloreta, M Félez, J Minguella, S Serrano, J M Broquetas

Pulmonary hyperinflation impairs the function of the diaphragm in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). However, it has been recently demonstrated that the muscle can counterbalance this deleterious effect, remodelling its structure (i.e. changing the proportion of different types of fibres). The aim of this study was to investigate whether the functional impairment present in COPD patients can be associated with structural subcellular changes of the diaphragm. Twenty individuals (60+/-9 yrs, 11 COPD patients and 9 subjects with normal spirometry) undergoing thoracotomy were included. Nutritional status and respiratory function were evaluated prior to surgery. Then, small samples of the costal diaphragm were obtained and processed for electron microscopy analysis. COPD patients showed a mean forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) of 60+/-9% predicted, a higher concentration of mitochondria (n(mit)) in their diaphragm than controls (0.62+/-0.16 versus 0.46+/-0.16 mitochondrial transections (mt) x microm(-2), p<0.05). On the other hand, subjects with air trapping (residual volume (RV)/total lung capacity (TLC) >37%) disclosed not only a higher n(mit) (0.63+/-0.17 versus 0.43+/-0.07 mt x microm(-2), p<0.05) but shorter sarcomeres (L(sar)) than subjects without this functional abnormality (2.08+/-0.16 to 2.27+/-0.15 microm, p<0.05). Glycogen stores were similar in COPD and controls. The severity of airways obstruction (i.e. FEV1) was associated with n(mit) (r=-0.555, p=0.01), while the amount of air trapping (i.e. RV/TLC) was found to correlate with both n(mit) (r=0.631, p=0.005) and L(sar) (r=-0.526, p<0.05). Finally, maximal inspiratory pressure (PI,max) inversely correlated with n(mit) (r=-0.547, p=0.01). In conclusion, impairment in lung function occurring in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is associated with subcellular changes in their diaphragm, namely a shortening in the length of sarcomeres and an increase in the concentration of mitochondria. These changes form a part of muscle remodelling, probably contributing to a better functional muscle behaviour.

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Sodium cacodylate trihydrate, ≥98%