Wagner, E. M. and R. H. Brown. Blood flow distribution within the airway wall. Journal of Applied Physiology. 92:1964-1969, 2002.
Altered perfusion of the bronchial mucosal plexus relative to the adventitial plexus may contribute to geometric changes in the airway wall and lumen. We studied bronchial perfusion distribution in sheep by using fluorescent microspheres at baseline and during intrabronchial artery challenge with methacholine chloride (MCh; n = 7). Additionally, we measured airway resistance (Raw) during MCh with control or increased perfusion (n = 9). Raw with MCh was significantly greater for high than control flow. Microspheres in histological sections lodged predominantly in the mucosa (60%), and this was not altered by MCh. However, more microspheres lodged in airways >1-mm in diameter during MCh and increased perfusion than MCh and control flow. In airways less than or equal to1 mm in diameter, fewer microspheres lodged during control than increased flow. If the number of microspheres represents regional agonist access to airway smooth muscle, then the differences observed in Raw can be explained by the distribution of agonist. During challenge, there was greater MCh delivery to larger airways during increased flow and less delivery to smaller airways during control flow. The results demonstrate the effects of axial perfusion distribution on Raw.