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American journal of respiratory and critical care medicine

Collagenase increases shortening of human bronchial smooth muscle in vitro.


PMID 7582286

Abstract

The recent demonstration of increased shortening of asthmatic airway smooth muscle could result from increased contractility of the muscle itself or from a decreased load that must be overcome by the smooth muscle to shorten. To evaluate the role of smooth muscle-associated extracellular matrix in limiting smooth muscle responses, we investigated the effect of collagenase on the mechanical responses of human bronchial smooth muscle strips. Contractile responses of second- to fourth-generation bronchi were evoked by electrical field stimulation, and measurements of length and tension were made at preloads between 0 and 2.5 g. The passive tension, active isometric, and isotonic responses were obtained at each preload before and after 90 min of incubation with 20 U/ml collagenase. Shortening to 10(-4) M histamine was also measured. Collagenase treatment caused a significant decrease in passive tension, with the most pronounced change occurring below Lmax (optimal length for force generation). At optimal lengths for shortening, the degree of shortening, expressed as a percentage of starting length, increased significantly from 8.9 +/- 1.4% before to 13.8 +/- 2.9% after collagenase treatment (n = 7) (p < 0.02). Shortening to histamine also increased from 14.3 +/- 2.5% before to 23.5 +/- 5.3% after collagenase treatment (n = 7) (p < 0.02). These results suggest that degradation of the collagenous matrix surrounding muscle in the airway wall reduces the load on the muscle, allowing increased smooth muscle shortening.

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