Breathing pattern and neuromuscular drive during CO2 rebreathing in normal man and in patients with COPD

G. Scano, F. Gigliotti, A. Spinelli, A. Van Meerhaeghe, R. Sergysels

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In 11 normal subjects and in 10 patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease we evaluated breathing pattern and mouth occlusion pressure (PO.1), while breathing room air and during reinhalation of a hypercapnic hyperoxic gas mixture. In the breathing pattern we analyzed the time and volume components of the respiratory cycle: Tidal volume (VT), inspiratory time (Ti), expiratory time (Te), total time of respiratory cycle (Ttot); mean inspiratory flow (VT/Ti) and Ti/Ttot ratios, respiratory frequency (RF) and instantaneous ventilation (VE). In the normal subjects, increase in VE during rebreathing mainly depended on an increase in both VT and VT/Ti without significant changes in Ti. During CO2 rebreathing the patients exhibited a lesser increase in VE compared to normals, due to a lesser increase in VT. However, expressing VT in percent of resting inspiratory capacity showed that VT attained at the end of rebreathing (VTmax) was similar to that noted in the normal subjects at the same minute of rebreathing. Furthermore, percent increase in VE, VT, VT/Ti and PO.1 between resting value and that at 56 mm Hg (Δ%), were significant in both groups with a major increase in the normal subjects for VE and VT/Ti. In comparison, Δ% decreases in both Te and Ttot were found to be significant only in the normal subjects. VT/Ti was related to VE in a similar way in the two groups. In contrast, in the normal subjects, Ti/Ttot did not increase with increasing VE. During rebreathing increase in PO.l was found to be similar in the normal subjects and in patients. However, for a given neuromuscular drive VE and VT/Ti were greater in the normal subjects than in the patients. These data show that in the patients as a whole no significant changes in breath intervals occur during CO2 rebreathing. Furthermore, in patients, in spite of a similar increase in neuromuscular drive, the efficiency by which inspiratory muscle output (PO.1) is converted into VT/Ti was found to be reduced.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-82
Number of pages10
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1986


  • Carbon dioxide rebreathing
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Respiratory drive
  • Ventilatory pattern

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Physiology


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