Chest wall kinematics and respiratory muscle coordinated action during hypercapnia in healthy males

I. Romagnoli, F. Gigliotti, B. Lanini, R. Bianchi, N. Soldani, M. Nerini, R. Duranti, G. Scano

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The present study was designed to verify whether during hypercapnic stimulation, as we had previously found during exercise or walking, the partitioning of the respiratory motor output is equally distributed to the muscles of chest wall compartments to assist diaphragm function. We studied chest wall kinematics and respiratory muscle recruitment in seven healthy men during rebreathing of a hypercapnic-hyperoxic gas mixture (CO2 RT). Data were compared with those previously obtained during either cycling exercise or walking. The chest wall volume (Vcw), assessed by optoelectronic plethysmography (OEP), was modeled as the sum of the volumes of the lung-apposed rib cage (Vrc,p), diaphragm-apposed rib cage (Vrc,a) and abdomen (Vab). Esophageal (Pes), gastric (Pga) and transdiaphragmatic (Pdi=Pga-Pes) pressures were simultaneously recorded. Velocity of shortening (V′) and power (W′=PxV′) of the diaphragm (W′di), rib cage muscles (W′rcm) and abdominal muscles (W′abm) were also calculated. During CO2 RT the progressive increase in end-inspiratory Vcw resulted from an increase in both end-inspiratory Vrc,p and Vrc,a, while the progressive decrease in end-expiratory Vcw was entirely due to the decrease in end-expiratory Vab. The increase in Vrc,p was proportionally slightly greater than that in Vrc,a. The end-inspiratory increase and end-expiratory decrease in Vcw were accounted for by inspiratory rib cage (RCM,i) and abdominal (ABM) muscle recruitment, respectively. W′di, W′rcm and W′abm progressively increased. However, while most of W′di was expressed in terms of velocity of shortening, most of W′rcm and W′abm was expressed as force or pressure. A comparison of CO2 results with data obtained during exercise revealed: (1) a gradual vs. an immediate response, (2) a similar decrease in Vab,e and Pabm, (3) an apparent lack of any difference in ABM recruitment, (4) less gradual ABM relaxation, (5) no drop in Pdi but a similar Wdi change and decrease in pressure-to-velocity ratio of the diaphragm. We have found that in healthy humans: (1) the increased motor output with hypercapnia is equally distributed between RCM and ABM to minimize transdiaphragmatic pressure and (2) data on chest wall kinematics and respiratory muscle recruitment are only partly in line with those obtained during walking or cycling exercise.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)525-533
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology
Issue number5-6
Publication statusPublished - May 2004


  • Abdomen
  • Chest wall kinematics
  • Hyupercapnia
  • Respiratory muscles
  • Rib cage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Physiology
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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