Actually this piece of Chinese medical research proves something that is almost self-evident: when did you ever see a broad-shouldered, barrel-chested Chinaman? Could you even imagine such a person?
Chinese people have smaller total lung capacity (TLC) compared with Caucasians of similar age, sex and height. One possible reason would be a higher lung elastic recoil in Chinese. Most published values for lung elastic recoil viz static lung compliance (CLst), shape constant K, and maximal static transpulmonary pressure (PLmax) have been from Caucasian subjects. The aim of our study was to obtain values for lung elastic recoil in normal young adult Chinese subjects. Static expiratory pressure-volume (P-V) curves were studied in 22 healthy Chinese subjects (12 males and 10 females). The P-V curve was fitted using an iterative least mean squares regression on a computer, according to an exponential equation: V = A-Be-KP, where V is lung volume, P is transpulmonary pressure, and A, B and K are constants. Mean values +/- SD for K, CLst and PLmax were 0.12 +/- 0.04, 230 +/- 103 ml.cmH2O-1 and 27.5 +/- 7.5 cmH2O, respectively. The values of CLst and K were similar to that of normal Caucasian subjects, whereas values of PLmax were lower. We attributed the lower PLmax partly to weaker inspiratory muscles in Chinese compared with Caucasians. We conclude that lung elastic recoil in normal young adult Chinese is similar to that of healthy young adult Caucasians. Hence, lung elasticity is unlikely to explain the racial differences in static lung volumes.