Airway smooth muscle response to vibrations
The main goal of this research was the in vitro investigation of the stiffness response of contracted airway smooth muscles under different external oscillations. Living animal airway smooth muscle tissues were dissected from pig tracheas and stimulated by a chemical stimulus (acetylcholine). These tissues were then systematically excited with different external vibrations. The force change was recorded to reflect the muscle stiffness change under vibration. The static and dynamic stiffness of contracted airway smooth muscles in isometric contraction were determined before, during and after vibrations. A continuum cross-bridge dynamic model (the fading memory model) was modified to accommodate smooth muscle behaviour and dynamically describes the cross-bridge kinetics. A two-dimensional finite element model (FEM) was developed to simulate longitudinal and transverse vibrations of the tissue. An empirical equation, derived from the experiments, is incorporated into the FEM. The results indicate that the stiffness of active smooth muscles can be physically reduced using external vibrations. This reduction is caused by a certain physical position change between actin and myosin. The dynamic stiffness has the tendency of decreasing as the frequency and/or amplitude of external vibration increases. However, the static stiffness decreases with an increase in the frequency and amplitude of excitation until it reaches a critical value of frequency where no variation in stiffness is observed. It is postulated that the tissue elasticity and mass inertia are the main contributors to the dynamic stiffness while the actin-myosin cross-bridge cycling is the main contributor to the static stiffness.