Vagolysis has been considered as a mechanism by which propofol produces bronchodilation. However, it has also been suggested that propofol-induced bradycardia may result from increased vagal tone. In this study, we have determined whether propofol has vagolytic effects on both the airway and cardiovascular system.
Mongrel dogs were anesthetized with pentobarbital. Bronchoconstriction was assessed by measuring changes in a bronchial cross-sectional area (BCA) using a bronchoscopic method. Heart rate (HR) and direct arterial blood pressure were also monitored. Vagal nerve stimulation (VNS) was performed for 60 s to produce both bronchoconstriction and bradycardia. To determine the effect of propofol on VNS-induced bronchoconstriction and bradycardia (n = 7), 0 (saline), 2.0 and 20 mg/kg propofol were administered intravenously at 20-min intervals with VNS commenced 5 min later. In addition, to determine if propofol-induced bradycardia is due to a vagomimetic action, two groups of six dogs were given 20 mg/kg propofol with or without 0.2 mg/kg atropine pre-treatment. HR was measured before and 5 min after propofol.
Propofol 20 mg/kg significantly inhibited VNS-induced bronchoconstriction. Although propofol per se significantly reduced HR (24%) and blood pressure (37%), the reduction in HR produced by VNS after 20 mg/kg propofol did not differ from that after saline or the lower dose of propofol (2 mg/kg). As atropine pre-treatment did not attenuate propofol-induced bradycardia, this response is unlikely to be simply due to vagomimetic actions.
Propofol has vagolytic effects on the airway but does not worsen bradycardia produced by parasympathetic stimulation.
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