Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol 2008 Jan 9;294(1):L139-48. Epub 2007 Nov 9.
Dept. of Pediatrics and Neonatal Perinatal Research Institute, Duke Univ. Medical Center, Rm. 302, Bell Bldg., Box 2994, Durham, NC 27710, USA.
NAD(P)H oxidase is one of the critical enzymes mediating cellular production of reactive oxygen species and has a central role in airway smooth muscle (ASM) cell proliferation. Since reactive oxygen species also affect ASM contractile response, we hypothesized a regulatory role of NAD(P)H oxidase in ASM contractility. We therefore studied ASM function in wild-type mice (C57BL/6J) and mice deficient in a component (p47phox) of NAD(P)H oxidase. In histological sections of the trachea, we found that the area occupied by ASM was 17% more in p47(phox-/-) than in wild-type mice. After correcting for the difference in ASM content, we found that force generation did not vary between the two genotypes. Similarly, their ASM shortening velocity, maximal power, and sensitivity to acetylcholine, as well as airway responsiveness to methacholine in vivo, were not significantly different. The main finding of this study was a significantly reduced ASM relaxation in p47phox-/- compared with wild-type mice both during the stimulus and after the end of stimulation. The tension relaxation attained at the 20th second of electric field stimulation was, respectively, 17.6 +/- 2.4 and 9.2 +/- 2.3% in null and wild-type mice (P <0.01 by t-test). Similar significant differences were found in the rate of tension relaxation and the time required to reduce tension by one-half. Our data suggest that NAD(P)H oxidase may have a role in the structural arrangement and mechanical properties of the airway tissue. Most importantly, we report the first evidence that the p47phox subunit of NAD(P)H oxidase plays a role in ASM relaxation.