1. To test whether almitrine might improve the arterial partial pressure of O2 in patients with chronic obstructive airways disease by improvement of ventilation-perfusion matching, we looked at the interaction between hypoxic and almitrine-induced vasoconstriction in isolated rat lungs perfused with blood at constant flow. Increases in pressure represented increases in resistance.
2. Almitrine, given in increasing doses between challenges with 2% O2, enhanced hypoxic vasoconstriction at low doses but attenuated it at high doses.
3. Stimulus-response curves to hypoxia of increasing severity gave a sigmoid curve.
4. Almitrine solvent caused small changes in pulmonary artery pressure and shifted the stimulus-response curve slightly in a parallel fashion.
5. Small doses of almitrine enhanced the action of mild to moderate hypoxia, medium doses attenuated moderately severe hypoxia, whereas high doses depressed vasoconstriction due to all degrees of hypoxia.
6. These effects of almitrine on hypoxic vasoconstriction were compared with the effect of solvent by analysis of variance; the results substantiated significant enhancement of hypoxia by small doses and attenuation by large doses.
7. In patients, if similar effects apply, small doses of almitrine would assist ventilation-perfusion matching, but large doses might worsen it.
8. Almitrine-induced vasoconstriction was attenuated by a fall in perfusate temperature in a similar manner to hypoxic vasoconstriction. It was also attenuated by three drugs, chlorpheniramine, propanolol and diethylcarbamazine, all of which also decrease hypoxic vasoconstriction. The similarity between hypoxic and almitrine-induced pulmonary vasoconstriction is further confirmed.