In the resting awake dog a continuous-wave Doppler flow transducer on the right bronchoesophageal artery inscribes a sharp early systolic spike and low flow in late systole and throughout diastole, indicating a highly resistive bed. An analysis of autonomic factors using intravenous, cumulative, and randomly applied cholinoceptor, beta 1- and beta 2-adrenoceptor, and alpha 1- and alpha 2-adrenoceptor antagonists indicates that the low vascular conductance is due to cholinoceptor and alpha 1- and alpha 2-adrenoceptor effects in a ratio 3.6:1. No beta-adrenoceptor tone is present. Sighing behavior invokes a transient (< 2 s) fall in intrapleural pressure (and thus rise in bronchovascular transmural pressure) of 10-30 mmHg, which is followed by a two- to threefold increase over 30 s in bronchial flow and conductance, an effect simulated in 50% of dogs when bronchovascular transmural pressure is acutely raised and maintained over 40-60 s by inflating an intra-aortic balloon distal to the origin of the bronchial artery. Autonomic blockade has no effect on bronchovascular dilatation evoked either by sighing or by balloon inflation. It is concluded that, in the resting bronchial circulation, there exists strong cholinoceptor and alpha-adrenoceptor-based vasoconstrictor activity which can be overpowered by strong nonadrenergic noncholinergic local vasodilator reflexes evoked by sudden changes in intrathoracic transmural pressure possibly acting on stretch-sensitive sensory nerve endings containing substance P, calcitonin gene-related peptide, and neurokinins. The tonic vasoconstrictor but not the sigh-evoked vasodilator effects are sensitive to pentobarbital sodium anesthesia.
American Journal of Physiology : Heart and Circulatory Physiology Vol. 265, Issue 2, p. 649-660