Acidosis inhibits rhythmic contractions of human thoracic ducts

Anders L Moeller, Vibeke E Hjortdal, Donna M B Boedtkjer, Ebbe Boedtkjer


Lymph vessels counteract edema by transporting interstitial fluid from peripheral tissues to the large veins and serve as conduits for immune cells, cancer cells, and pathogens. Because edema during inflammation and malignancies is frequently associated with acidosis, we tested the hypothesis that acid-base disturbances affect human thoracic duct contractions. We studied, by isometric and isobaric myography, the contractile function of human thoracic duct segments harvested with written informed consent from patients undergoing esophageal cancer surgery. Human thoracic ducts produce complex contractile patterns consisting of tonic rises in tension (isometric myography) or decreases in diameter (isobaric myography) with superimposed phasic contractions. Active tone development decreases substantially (~90% at 30 vs. 7 mmHg) at elevated transmural pressure. Acidosis inhibits spontaneous as well as noradrenaline- and serotonin-induced phasic contractions of human thoracic ducts by 70-90% at extracellular pH 6.8 compared to 7.4 with less pronounced effects observed at pH 7.1. Mean tension responses to noradrenaline and serotonin - averaged over the entire period of agonist exposure - decrease by ~50% at extracellular pH 6.8. Elevating extracellular [K+ ] from the normal resting level around 4 mmol/L increases overall tension development but reduces phasic activity to a level that is no different between human thoracic duct segments investigated at normal and low extracellular pH. In conclusion, we show that extracellular acidosis inhibits human thoracic duct contractions with more pronounced effects on phasic than tonic contractions. We propose that reduced phasic activity of lymph vessels at low pH attenuates lymph propulsion and increases the risk of edema formation.

TidsskriftPhysiological Reports
Udgave nummer8
Sider (fra-til)e14074
StatusUdgivet - apr. 2019
Udgivet eksterntJa


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