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1.  Associations of airway inflammation and responsiveness markers in non asthmatic subjects at start of apprenticeship 
Bronchial Hyperresponsiveness (BHR) is considered a hallmark of asthma. Other methods are helpful in epidemiological respiratory health studies including Fractional Exhaled Nitric Oxide (FENO) and Eosinophils Percentage (EP) in nasal lavage fluid measuring markers for airway inflammation along with the Forced Oscillatory Technique measuring Airway resistance (AR). Can their outcomes discriminate profiles of respiratory health in healthy subjects starting apprenticeship in occupations with a risk of asthma?
Rhinoconjunctivitis, asthma-like symptoms, FEV1 and AR post-Methacholine Bronchial Challenge (MBC) test results, FENO measurements and EP were all investigated in apprentice bakers, pastry-makers and hairdressers not suffering from asthma. Multiple Correspondence Analysis (MCA) was simultaneously conducted in relation to these groups and this generated a synthetic partition (EI). Associations between groups of subjects based on BHR and EI respectively, as well as risk factors, symptoms and investigations were also assessed.
Among the 441 apprentice subjects, 45 (10%) declared rhinoconjunctivitis-like symptoms, 18 (4%) declared asthma-like symptoms and 26 (6%) suffered from BHR. The mean increase in AR post-MBC test was 21% (sd = 20.8%). The median of FENO values was 12.6 ppb (2.6-132 range). Twenty-six subjects (6.7%) had EP exceeding 14%. BHR was associated with atopy (p < 0.01) and highest FENO values (p = 0.09). EI identified 39 subjects with eosinophilic inflammation (highest values of FENO and eosinophils), which was associated with BHR and atopy.
Are any of the identified markers predictive of increased inflammatory responsiveness or of development of symptoms caused by occupational exposures? Analysis of population follow-up will attempt to answer this question.
PMCID: PMC2913998  PMID: 20604945
2.  320 Development of a Questionnaire for the Assessment of Bronchial Hyperresponsiveness in Korea 
Bronchial hyperresponsiveness (BHR) is an important pathophysiological feature of asthma. In addition to the diagnostic significance, BHR is associated with the severity of airway inflammation and BHR- based treatment approaches has been shown to be effective. Nevertheless, challenge tests are time consuming, inconvenient to patients, and are not accessible in every primary care physicians. We aimed to develop a questionnaire for the assessment of BHR in Korean subjects.
From the 24 University-affiliated hospitals, we recruited 149 adults between age 20 and 40 years with more than one asthmatic symptom (cough, sputum or dyspnea) and who had bronchial provocation test. A list of 33 symptoms, past history of allergy or smoking and 10 provoking stimuli were selected for the BHR questionnaire. After a methacholine challenge test patients were asked to complete each questionnaire. For each item of questionnaire, diagnostic odds ratios for the presence of BHR were calculated and multiple logistic regression analysis was performed to select final questionnaire items. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis was used to evaluate the sensitivity and specificity of the selected questionnaire items.
Methacholine challenge test was positive in 36 patients (24.2%). Eleven symptoms and 2 provoking stimuli items were statistically significant by the results of diagnostic odds ratio. According to the result of multiple logistic regression analysis, 4 items were finally selected for the significant BHR questionnaire: the presence of wheezing episode, past history of physician-diagnosed asthma, family history of asthma. The psychiatric stress was negatively associated provoking stimuli item for the presence of BHR. The area under the ROC curve was 0.80 (95% CI, 0.72-0.86). Sensitivity was 84.9% (95% CI, 68.1-94.9) and specificity was 65.5% (95% CI, 55.8-74.3).
Four BHR questionnaire items including wheezing episode, past history of physician-diagnosed asthma, family history of asthma and psyachiatric stress stimuli were able to assess the presence of BHR in Korean adults.
PMCID: PMC3512762
3.  Bronchial Hyperresponsiveness to Methacholine and AMP in Children With Atopic Asthma 
Bronchial hyperresponsiveness (BHR) is typically measured by bronchial challenge tests that employ direct stimulation by methacholine or indirect stimulation by adenosine 5'-monophosphate (AMP). Some studies have shown that the AMP challenge test provides a better reflection of airway inflammation, but few studies have examined the relationship between the AMP and methacholine challenge tests in children with asthma. We investigated the relationship between AMP and methacholine testing in children and adolescents with atopic asthma.
The medical records of 130 children with atopic asthma (mean age, 10.63 years) were reviewed retrospectively. Methacholine and AMP test results, spirometry, skin prick test results, and blood tests for inflammatory markers (total IgE, eosinophils [total count, percent of white blood cells]) were analyzed.
The concentration of AMP that induces a 20% decline in forced expiratory volume in 1 second [FEV1] (PC20) of methacholine correlated with the PC20 of AMP (r2=0.189, P<0.001). No significant differences were observed in the levels of inflammatory markers (total eosinophil count, eosinophil percentage, and total IgE) between groups that were positive and negative for BHR to methacholine. However, significant differences in inflammatory markers were observed in groups that were positive and negative for BHR to AMP (log total eosinophil count, P=0.023; log total IgE, P=0.020, eosinophil percentage, P<0.001). In contrast, body mass index (BMI) was significantly different in the methacholine positive and negative groups (P=0.027), but not in the AMP positive and negative groups (P=0.62). The PC20 of methacholine correlated with FEV1, FEV1/forced vital capacity (FVC), and maximum mid-expiratory flow (MMEF) (P=0.001, 0.011, 0.001, respectively), and the PC20 of AMP correlated with FEV1, FEV1/FVC, and MMEF (P=0.008, 0.046, 0.001, respectively).
Our results suggest that the AMP and methacholine challenge test results correlated well with respect to determining BHR. The BHR to AMP more likely implicated airway inflammation in children with atopic asthma. In contrast, the BHR to methacholine was related to BMI.
PMCID: PMC3479227  PMID: 23115730
AMP; atopic asthma; bronchial hyper-responsiveness; methacholine
4.  Relation of the hypertonic saline responsiveness of the airways to exercise induced asthma symptom severity and to histamine or methacholine reactivity. 
Thorax  1993;48(2):142-147.
BACKGROUND: Conflicting views exist over whether responsiveness of the airways to hypertonic saline relates to non-specific bronchial hyperresponsiveness measured by histamine or methacholine challenge. The bronchoconstrictor responses to exercise and hypertonic saline are reported to be closely related, but the relationship between the symptoms of exercise induced asthma and airway responsiveness to hypertonic saline is not known. METHODS: In 29 asthmatic patients with a history of exercise induced asthma, the response to an ultrasonically nebulised hypertonic saline (3.6% sodium chloride) aerosol, measured as the volume of hypertonic saline laden air required to produce a fall in forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) of > or = 20% (PD20), was compared with the concentration of histamine (PC20; group 1) and methacholine (PC20; group 2) producing a 20% fall in baseline FEV1 and exercise induced asthma symptom severity score (groups 1 and 2). The hypertonic responsiveness was determined in a dose-response manner to a maximum dose of 310 1 and the exercise induced asthma symptom severity was scored on a scale of 0-5. RESULTS: Of the 29 patients, 23 (79%) were responsive to the hypertonic saline, with PD20 values ranging from 9 to 310 1. A significant correlation was found between the PD20 hypertonic saline and the exercise induced asthma symptom score. There was no significant correlation between the PD20 response to hypertonic saline and the histamine PC20 or methacholine PC20. The exclusion of those subjects who failed to respond to hypertonic saline improved the relationship between hypertonic saline and methacholine PC20. No significant correlation was found between the exercise induced asthma symptom score and histamine PC20 or methacholine PC20. CONCLUSION: These findings suggest that hypertonic saline responsiveness bears a closer relationship to the severity of exercise induced asthma symptoms than to the non-specific bronchial hyperresponsiveness measured by histamine or methacholine reactivity.
PMCID: PMC464291  PMID: 8493628
5.  Bronchial hyperresponsiveness in women with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease related to wood smoke 
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) related to wood smoke exposure is characterized by important inflammation of the central and peripheral airways without significant emphysema. The objective of this study is to describe the bronchial hyperresponsiveness (BHR) level in women with COPD related to wood smoke exposure and to compare it with the BHR in women with COPD related to tobacco smoking.
Materials and methods
Two groups of women with stable COPD were studied: (1) wood smoke exposed (WS-COPD); and (2) tobacco smoke exposed (TS-COPD). A methacholine challenge test (MCT) was performed in all patients according to American Thoracic Society criteria. BHR levels were compared using the methacholine concentration, which caused a 20% fall in the FEV1 (PC20).
Thirty-one patients, 19 with WS-COPD and 12 with TS-COPD, were included. There were no significant differences between the groups in baseline FVC, FEV1, IC, FEF25–75, and FEF25–75/FVC. All 31 patients had a positive MCT (PC20 < 16 mg/mL) and the fall in the FEV1 and IC was similar in both groups. The severity of BHR was significantly higher in the WS-COPD patients (PC20: 0.39 mg/mL) than in the TS-COPD patients (PC20: 1.24 mg/mL) (P = 0.028). The presence of cough, phlegm, and dyspnea during the test were similar in both groups.
We found moderate to severe BHR in women with WS-COPD, which was more severe than in the TS-COPD women with similar age and airflow obstruction. This paper suggests that the structural and inflammatory changes induced by the chronic exposure to wood smoke, described in other studies, can explain the differences with TS-COPD patients. Future studies may clarify our understanding of the impact of BHR on COPD physiopathology, phenotypes, and treatment strategies.
PMCID: PMC3393338  PMID: 22791990
biomass fuels; indoor air pollution; wood smoke; COPD; methacholine challenge test
6.  Bronchial hyperresponsiveness to methacholine in patients with primary Sjögren's syndrome. 
The prevalence of bronchial hyperresponsiveness (BHR) to methacholine inhalation in a consecutive series of 21 patients with primary Sjögren's syndrome was studied prospectively. Slight to severe BHR was seen in 12/20 (60%) of the patients. Ten of 12 patients with BHR (83%) had a non-productive cough, wheezing, or intermittent breathlessness. Bronchial hyperresponsiveness was more common in patients with extraglandular symptoms (10/14, 71%) than in those with only glandular symptoms (29%). Spirometrically 29% (6/21) of the patients had 'small airways' disease', and all those had BHR. Of 6/21 (29%) who had diffuse interstitial lung disease, two had BHR. Three of the four patients with obstructive lung function were challenged with methacholine and two of them had BHR. Only two patients with BHR had normal spirometry findings. The data showed that respiratory disease--mostly mild or moderate but even severe bronchial hyperresponsiveness--is commonly seen in patients with primary Sjögren's syndrome.
PMCID: PMC1004322  PMID: 1994866
7.  Immunopathological changes in the airways of stable lung transplant recipients 
Thorax  1997;52(4):322-328.
BACKGROUND: Pathological obliterative bronchiolitis, characterised by inflammation and occlusion of airways, is a serious complication of lung transplantation. Endobronchial biopsy (EBB) provides a means of examining transplanted airways. This study aimed to investigate the role of EBB samples in revealing early signals of airway injury. METHODS: In 18 stable lung transplant recipients with close to maximal lung function (median FEV1, best after transplantation 100%, interquartile range 98-100%) EBB samples were taken simultaneously with transbronchial biopsy samples and bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid (median 195 days after transplantation). OCT embedded specimens were snap frozen on an isopentane slurry made with liquid nitrogen and 7 microns sections were stained with monoclonal antibodies using a three stage immunoperoxidase method. RESULTS: Compared with nine non- transplanted control subjects, EBB specimens from the stable transplant group had significantly increased CD8 positivity (median 53 versus 27 cells/mm basement membrane, p = 0.04; 95% CI for the difference 1 to 46)) and increased HLA-DR positivity (median 84 versus 26 cells/mm basement membrane, 95% CI for the difference 6 to 115). There was an increase in CD68 positive cells in the EBB specimens from transplant recipients of borderline significance (median 92 versus 68, p = 0.08, 95% CI for the difference 1 to 84). CD3, CD4, and CD25 counts were similar in the two groups. EBB findings were not influenced by age, sex, indication for transplant, immunosuppression doses or levels, nor the presence of airway commensals in the BAL fluid. CONCLUSIONS: EBB is practicable in a transplant setting and provides information about bronchial inflammatory changes. It is likely that there is ongoing inflammation, possibly rejection mediated, even in healthy lung transplant recipients despite triple immunosuppression. 

PMCID: PMC1758532  PMID: 9196513
8.  Ca2+-Activated K+ Channel–3.1 Blocker TRAM-34 Attenuates Airway Remodeling and Eosinophilia in a Murine Asthma Model 
Key features of asthma include bronchial hyperresponsiveness (BHR), eosinophilic airway inflammation, and bronchial remodeling, characterized by subepithelial collagen deposition, airway fibrosis, and increased bronchial smooth muscle (BSM) mass. The calcium-activated K+ channel KCa3.1 is expressed by many cells implicated in the pathogenesis of asthma, and is involved in both inflammatory and remodeling responses in a number of tissues. The specific KCa3.1 blocker 5-[(2-chlorophenyl)(diphenyl)methyl]-1H-pyrazole (TRAM-34) attenuates BSM cell proliferation, and both mast cell and fibrocyte recruitment in vitro. We aimed to examine the effects of KCa3.1 blockade on BSM remodeling, airway inflammation, and BHR in a murine model of chronic asthma. BALB/c mice were sensitized with intraperitoneal ovalbumin (OVA) on Days 0 and 14, and then challenged with intranasal OVA during Days 14–75. OVA-sensitized/challenged mice received TRAM-34 (120 mg/kg/day, subcutaneous) from Days −7 to 75 (combined treatment), Days −7 to 20 (preventive treatment), or Days 21 to 75 (curative treatment). Untreated mice received daily injections of vehicle (n = 8 per group). Bronchial remodeling was assessed by histological and immunohistochemical analyses. Inflammation was evaluated using bronchoalveolar lavage and flow cytometry. We also determined BHR in both conscious and anesthetized mice via plethysmography. We demonstrated that curative treatment with TRAM-34 abolishes BSM remodeling and subbasement collagen deposition, and attenuates airway eosinophilia. Although curative treatment alone did not significantly reduce BHR, the combined treatment attenuated nonspecific BHR to methacholine. This study indicates that KCa3.1 blockade could provide a new therapeutic strategy in asthma.
PMCID: PMC4035224  PMID: 23204391
asthma; KCa3.1; ion channel; remodeling; smooth muscle
9.  Prevention of hyperoxia-induced bronchial hyperreactivity by sildenafil and vasoactive intestinal peptide: impact of preserved lung function and structure 
Respiratory Research  2014;15(1):81.
Hyperoxia exposure leads to the development of lung injury and bronchial hyperreactivity (BHR) via involvement of nitric oxide (NO) pathway. We aimed at characterizing whether the stimulation of the NO pathway by sildenafil or vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) is able to prevent the hyperoxia-induced development of BHR. The respective roles of the preserved lung volume and alveolar architecture, the anti-inflammatory and anti-apoptotic potentials of these treatments in the diminished lung responsiveness were also characterized.
Materials and methods
Immature (28-day-old) rats were exposed for 72 hours to room air (Group C), hyperoxia (>95%, Group HC), or hyperoxia with the concomitant administration of vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP, Group HV) or sildenafil (Group HS). Following exposure, the end-expiratory lung volume (EELV) was assessed plethysmographically. Airway and respiratory tissue mechanics were measured under baseline conditions and following incremental doses of methacholine to assess BHR. Inflammation was assessed by analyzing the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF), while biochemical and histological analyses were used to characterize the apoptotic and structural changes in the lungs.
The BHR, the increased EELV, the aberrant alveolarization, and the infiltration of inflammatory cells into the BALF that developed in Group HC were all suppressed significantly by VIP or sildenafil treatment. The number of apoptotic cells increased significantly in Group HC, with no evidence of statistically significant effects on this adverse change in Groups HS and HV.
These findings suggest that stimulating the NO pathway by sildenafil and VIP exert their beneficial effect against hyperoxia-induced BHR via preserving normal EELV, inhibiting airway inflammation and preserving the physiological lung structure, whereas the antiapoptotic potential of these treatments were not apparent in this process.
PMCID: PMC4261898  PMID: 25117627
10.  Relationship between Bronchial Hyperresponsiveness and Impaired Lung Function after Infantile Asthma 
PLoS ONE  2007;2(11):e1180.
Wheezing during infancy has been linked to early loss of pulmonary function. We prospectively investigated the relation between bronchial hyperresponsiveness (BHR) and progressive impairment of pulmonary function in a cohort of asthmatic infants followed until age 9 years. We studied 129 infants who had had at least three episodes of wheezing. Physical examinations, baseline lung function tests and methacholine challenge tests were scheduled at ages 16 months and 5, 7 and 9 years. Eighty-three children completed follow-up. Twenty-four (29%) infants had wheezing that persisted at 9 years of age. Clinical outcome at age 9 years was significantly predicted by symptoms at 5 years of age and by parental atopy. Specific airway resistance (sRaw) was altered in persistent wheezers as early as 5 years of age, and did not change thereafter. Ninety-five per cent of the children still responded to methacholine at the end of follow-up. The degree of BHR at 9 years was significantly related to current clinical status, baseline lung function, and parental atopy. BHR at 16 months and 5 years of age did not predict persistent wheezing between 5 and 9 years of age, or the final degree of BHR, but it did predict altered lung function. Wheezing that persists from infancy to 9 years of age is associated with BHR and to impaired lung function. BHR itself is predictive of impaired lung function in children, strongly pointing to early airway remodeling in infantile asthma.
PMCID: PMC2048663  PMID: 18000551
11.  Association of bronchial hyperresponsiveness and lung function with C-reactive protein (CRP): a population based study 
Thorax  2004;59(10):892-896.
Background: C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of systemic inflammation, is a powerful predictor of adverse cardiovascular events. Respiratory impairment is also associated with cardiovascular risk. Although some studies have found an inverse relationship between lung function and markers of systemic inflammation, only one study has reported a relationship between lung function and CRP levels. In contrast, little is known about the relationship between bronchial hyperresponsiveness (BHR) and systemic inflammation. The association between lung function and CRP and between BHR and CRP has been investigated.
Methods: As part of the European Community Respiratory Health Survey follow up study serum CRP levels, forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1), and BHR to methacholine (⩾20% decrease in FEV1 to <4 mg methacholine) were measured in 259 adults aged 28–56 years free of cardiovascular disease or respiratory infection.
Results: Mean (SD) FEV1 (adjusted for age, sex, height, and smoking status) was lower in subjects with a high CRP level (high tertile) (3.29 (0.44) l/s v 3.50 (0.44) l/s; p<0.001) and BHR was more frequent (41.9% v 24.9%; p = 0.005) than in subjects with lower CRP levels (low+middle tertiles). Similar results were obtained when the potential confounding factors were taken into account. Similar patterns of results were found in non-smokers and in non-asthmatic subjects.
Conclusions: Increased CRP levels are strongly and independently associated with respiratory impairment and more frequent BHR. These results suggest that both respiratory impairment and BHR are associated with a systemic inflammatory process.
PMCID: PMC1746828  PMID: 15454657
12.  Effects of Respiratory Mycoplasma pneumoniae Infection on Allergen-Induced Bronchial Hyperresponsiveness and Lung Inflammation in Mice  
Infection and Immunity  2003;71(3):1520-1526.
Airway mycoplasma infection may be associated with asthma pathophysiology. However, the direct effects of mycoplasma infection on asthma remain unknown. Using a murine allergic-asthma model, we evaluated the effects of different timing of airway Mycoplasma pneumoniae infection on bronchial hyperresponsiveness (BHR), lung inflammation, and the protein levels of Th1 (gamma interferon [IFN-γ]) and Th2 (interleukin 4 [IL-4]) cytokines in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid. When mycoplasma infection occurred 3 days before allergen (ovalbumin) sensitization and challenge, the infection reduced the BHR and inflammatory-cell influx into the lung. This was accompanied by a significant induction of Th1 responses (increased IFN-γ and decreased IL-4 production). Conversely, when mycoplasma infection occurred 2 days after allergen sensitization and challenge, the infection initially caused a temporary reduction of BHR and then increased BHR, lung inflammation, and IL-4 levels. Our data suggest that mycoplasma infection could modulate both physiological and immunological responses in the murine asthma model. Our animal models may also provide a new means to understand the role of infection in asthma pathogenesis and give evidence for the asthma hygiene hypothesis.
PMCID: PMC148884  PMID: 12595471
13.  Fractional Exhaled Nitric Oxide and Impulse Oscillometry in Children With Allergic Rhinitis 
Airway inflammation, bronchial hyper-responsiveness (BHR), and bronchodilator response (BDR) are representative characteristics of asthma. Because allergic rhinitis (AR) is a risk factor for asthma development, we evaluated these 3 characteristics in AR using measurement of fractional exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO), a methacholine challenge test (MCT), and impulse oscillometry (IOS).
This study included 112 children with asthma (asthma group), 196 children with AR (AR group), and 32 control subjects (control group). We compared pulmonary function parameters and FeNO levels among the 3 groups. The AR group was subdivided into 2 categories: the AR group with BHR and the AR group without, and again pulmonary function and FeNO levels were compared between the 2 subgroups.
FeNO levels were more increased in the AR and asthma groups than in the control group; within the AR group, FeNO was higher in the AR group with BHR than in the AR group without. The BDR was more increased in the AR group than in the control group when percent changes in reactance at 5 Hz (Δ X5) and reactance area (Δ AX) were compared. In the AR group, however, there was no difference in Δ X5 and Δ AX between the AR group with BHR and the AR group without.
Reversible airway obstruction on IOS and elevated FeNO levels were observed in children with AR. Because elevated FeNO levels can indicate airway inflammation and because chronic inflammation may lead to BHR, FeNO levels may be associated with BHR in AR. IOS can be a useful tool for detecting lower airway involvement of AR independent of BHR assessed in the MCT.
PMCID: PMC3881396  PMID: 24404390
Asthma; allergic rhinitis; bronchial hyper-responsiveness; bronchodilator effect; child; nitric oxide
14.  Comparison of mannitol and methacholine to predict exercise-induced bronchoconstriction and a clinical diagnosis of asthma 
Respiratory Research  2009;10(1):4.
Asthma can be difficult to diagnose, but bronchial provocation with methacholine, exercise or mannitol is helpful when used to identify bronchial hyperresponsiveness (BHR), a key feature of the disease. The utility of these tests in subjects with signs and symptoms of asthma but without a clear diagnosis has not been investigated. We investigated the sensitivity and specificity of mannitol to identify exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB) as a manifestation of BHR; compared this with methacholine; and compared the sensitivity and specificity of mannitol and methacholine for a clinician diagnosis of asthma.
509 people (6–50 yr) were enrolled, 78% were atopic, median FEV1 92.5% predicted, and a low NAEPPII asthma score of 1.2. Subjects with symptoms of seasonal allergy were excluded. BHR to exercise was defined as a ≥ 10% fall in FEV1 on at least one of two tests, to methacholine a PC20 ≤ 16 mg/ml and to mannitol a 15% fall in FEV1 at ≤ 635 mg or a 10% fall between doses. The clinician diagnosis of asthma was made on examination, history, skin tests, questionnaire and response to exercise but they were blind to the mannitol and methacholine results.
Mannitol and methacholine were therapeutically equivalent to identify EIB, a clinician diagnosis of asthma, and prevalence of BHR. The sensitivity/specificity of mannitol to identify EIB was 59%/65% and for methacholine it was 56%/69%. The BHR was mild. Mean EIB % fall in FEV1 in subjects positive to exercise was 19%, (SD 9.2), mannitol PD15 158 (CI:129,193) mg, and methacholine PC20 2.1(CI:1.7, 2.6)mg/ml. The prevalence of BHR was the same: for exercise (43.5%), mannitol (44.8%), and methacholine (41.6%) with a test agreement between 62 & 69%. The sensitivity and specificity for a clinician diagnosis of asthma was 56%/73% for mannitol and 51%/75% for methacholine. The sensitivity increased to 73% and 72% for mannitol and methacholine when two exercise tests were positive.
In this group with normal FEV1, mild symptoms, and mild BHR, the sensitivity and specificity for both mannitol and methacholine to identify EIB and a clinician diagnosis of asthma were equivalent, but lower than previously documented in well-defined populations.
Trial registration
This was a multi-center trial comprising 25 sites across the United States of America. (NCT0025229).
PMCID: PMC2644668  PMID: 19161635
15.  Bronchial hyperreactivity and spirometric impairment in polysensitized patients with allergic rhinitis 
We previously demonstrated in a group of patients with perennial allergic rhinitis alone impairment of spirometric parameters and high percentage of subjects with bronchial hyperreactivity (BHR). The present study aimed at evaluating a group of polysensitized subjects suffering from allergic rhinitis alone to investigate the presence of spirometric impairment and BHR during the pollen season.
One hundred rhinitics sensitized both to pollen and perennial allergens were evaluated during the pollen season. Spirometry and methacholine bronchial challenge were performed.
Six rhinitics showed impaired values of FEV1 without referred symptoms of asthma. FEF 25–75 values were impaired in 28 rhinitics. Sixty-six patients showed positive methacholine bronchial challenge. FEF 25–75 values were impaired only in BHR positive patients (p < 0.001). A significant difference was observed both for FEV1 (p < 0.05) and FEF 25–75 (p < 0.001) considering BHR severity.
This study evidences that an impairment of spirometric parameters may be observed in polysensitized patients with allergic rhinitis alone during the pollen season. A high percentage of these patients had BHR. A close relationship between upper and lower airways is confirmed.
PMCID: PMC385251  PMID: 15018619
allergic rhinitis; polysensitization; bronchial hyperreactivity; methacholine challenge; FEF 25–75
16.  Physical activity and bronchial hyperresponsiveness: European Community Respiratory Health Survey II 
Thorax  2006;62(5):403-410.
Identification of the risk factors for bronchial hyperresponsiveness (BHR) would increase the understanding of the causes of asthma. The relationship between physical activity and BHR in men and women aged 28.0–56.5 years randomly selected from 24 centres in 11 countries participating in the European Community Respiratory Health Survey II was investigated.
5158 subjects answered questionnaires about physical activity and performed BHR tests. Participants were asked about the frequency and duration of usual weekly exercise resulting in breathlessness or sweating. BHR was defined as a decrease in forced expiratory volume in 1 s of at least 20% of its post‐saline value for a maximum methacholine dose of 2 mg.
Both frequency and duration of physical activity were inversely related to BHR. The prevalence of BHR in subjects exercising ⩽1, 2–3 and ⩾4 times a week was 14.5%, 11.6% and 10.9%, respectively (p<0.001). The corresponding odds ratios were 1.00, 0.78 (95% CI 0.62 to 0.99) and 0.69 (95% CI 0.50 to 0.94) after controlling for potential confounding factors. The frequency of BHR in subjects exercising <1 h, 1–3 h and ⩾4 h a week was 15.9%, 10.9% and 10.7%, respectively (p<0.001). The corresponding adjusted odds ratios were 1.00, 0.70 (95% CI 0.57 to 0.87) and 0.67 (95% CI 0.50 to 0.90). Physical activity was associated with BHR in all studied subgroups.
These results suggest that BHR is strongly and independently associated with decreased physical activity. Further studies are needed to determine the mechanisms underlying this association.
PMCID: PMC2117184  PMID: 17121869
17.  Small airway dysfunction is associated to excessive bronchoconstriction in asthmatic patients 
Respiratory Research  2014;15(1):86.
We investigated whether a relationship between small airways dysfunction and bronchial hyperresponsiveness (BHR), expressed both in terms of ease of airway narrowing and of excessive bronchoconstriction, could be demonstrated in asthma.
63 (36 F; mean age 42 yr ± 14) stable, mild-to-moderate asthmatic patients (FEV1 92% pred ±14; FEV1/FVC 75% ± 8) underwent the methacholine challenge test (MCT). The degree of BHR was expressed as PD20 (in μg) and as ∆FVC%. Peripheral airway resistance was measured pre- and post-MCT by impulse oscillometry system (IOS) and expressed as R5-R20 (in kPa sL−1).
All patients showed BHR to methacholine (PD20 < 1600 μg) with a PD20 geometric (95% CI) mean value of 181(132–249) μg and a ∆FVC% mean value of 13.6% ± 5.1, ranging 2.5 to 29.5%. 30 out of 63 patients had R5-R20 > 0.03 kPa sL−1 (>upper normal limit) and showed ∆FVC%, but not PD20 values significantly different from the 33 patients who had R5-R20 ≤ 0.03 kPa sL−1 (15.8% ± 4.6 vs 11.5% ± 4.8, p < 0.01 and 156(96–254) μg vs 207 (134–322) μg, p = 0.382). In addition, ∆FVC% values were significantly related to the corresponding pre- (r = 0.451, p < 0.001) and post-MCT (r = 0.376, p < 0.01) R5-R20 values.
Our results show that in asthmatic patients, small airway dysfunction, as assessed by IOS, is strictly associated to BHR, expressed as excessive bronchoconstriction, but not as ease of airway narrowing.
PMCID: PMC4243812  PMID: 25158694
Bronchial hyperresponsiveness; Small airways; Asthma
18.  Nasal eosinophilic inflammation contributes to bronchial hyperresponsiveness in patients with allergic rhinitis. 
Journal of Korean Medical Science  2002;17(6):761-764.
There are increasing evidences that allergic rhinitis (AR) may influence the clinical course of asthma. We conducted methacholine challenge test and nasal eosinophils on nasal smear to patients with allergic rhinitis in order to investigate the mechanism of connecting upper and lower airway inflammation in 35 patients with AR during exacerbation. The methacholine concentration causing a 20% fall in FEV1 (PC20) was used as thresholds of bronchial hyperresponsiveness (BHR). Thresholds of 25 mg/dL or less were assumed to indicate BHR. All patients had normal pulmonary function. Significant differences in BHR were detected in the comparison of patients with cough or postnasal drip and without cough or postnasal drip. There were significant differences of PC20 between patients with cough or postnasal drip and those without cough or postnasal drip (3.41+/-3.59 mg/mL vs 10.2+/-1.2 mg/mL, p=0.001). The levels of total IgE were higher in patients with seasonal AR than in patients with perennial AR with exacerbation (472.5+/-132.5 IU/L vs. 389.0+/-70.9 IU/L, p<0.05). Nasal eosinophils were closely related to log PC20 (r=-0.65, p<0.01). These findings demonstrated that nasal eosinophilic inflammation might contribute to BHR in patients with AR.
PMCID: PMC3054952  PMID: 12482998
19.  Airway inflammation, basement membrane thickening and bronchial hyperresponsiveness in asthma 
Thorax  2002;57(4):309-316.
Background: There are few data in asthma relating airway physiology, inflammation and remodelling and the relative effects of inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) treatment on these parameters. A study of the relationships between spirometric indices, airway inflammation, airway remodelling, and bronchial hyperreactivity (BHR) before and after treatment with high dose inhaled fluticasone propionate (FP 750 µg bd) was performed in a group of patients with relatively mild but symptomatic asthma.
Methods: A double blind, randomised, placebo controlled, parallel group study of inhaled FP was performed in 35 asthmatic patients. Bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) and airway biopsy studies were carried out at baseline and after 3 and 12 months of treatment. Twenty two normal healthy non-asthmatic subjects acted as controls.
Results: BAL fluid eosinophils, mast cells, and epithelial cells were significantly higher in asthmatic patients than in controls at baseline (p<0.01). Subepithelial reticular basement membrane (rbm) thickness was variable, but overall was increased in asthmatic patients compared with controls (p<0.01). Multiple regression analysis explained 40% of the variability in BHR, 21% related to rbm thickness, 11% to BAL epithelial cells, and 8% to BAL eosinophils. The longitudinal data corroborated the cross sectional model. Forced expiratory volume in 1 second improved after 3 months of treatment with FP with no further improvement at 12 months. PD20 improved throughout the study. BAL inflammatory cells decreased following 3 months of treatment with no further improvement at 12 months (p<0.05 v placebo). Rbm thickness decreased in the FP group, but only after 12 months of treatment (mean change –1.9, 95% CI –3 to –0.7 µm; p<0.01 v baseline, p<0.05 v placebo). A third of the improvement in BHR with FP was associated with early changes in inflammation, but the more progressive and larger improvement was associated with the later improvement in airway remodelling.
Conclusion: Physiology, airway inflammation and remodelling in asthma are interrelated and improve with ICS. Changes are not temporally concordant, with prolonged treatment necessary for maximal benefit in remodelling and PD20. Determining the appropriate dose of inhaled steroids only by reference to symptoms and lung function, as specified in current international guidelines, and even against indices of inflammation may be over simplistic. The results of this study support the need for early and long term intervention with ICS, even in patients with relatively mild asthma.
PMCID: PMC1746305  PMID: 11923548
20.  Prevention of airway hyperresponsiveness induced by left ventricular dysfunction in rats 
Respiratory Research  2012;13(1):114.
The effectiveness of strategies for treatment of the altered static lung volume and against the development of bronchial hyperreactivity (BHR) following a left ventricular dysfunction (LVD) induced by myocardial ischaemia was investigated in a rat model of sustained postcapillary pulmonary hypertension.
Airway resistance (Raw) was identified from the respiratory system input impedance (Zrs) in four groups of rats. End-expiratory lung volume (EELV) was determined plethysmographically, and Zrs was measured under baseline conditions and following iv infusions of 2, 6 or 18 μg/kg/min methacholine. Sham surgery was performed in the rats in Group C, while the left interventricular coronary artery was ligated and Zrs and its changes following identical methacholine challenges were reassessed in the same rats 8 weeks later, during which no treatment was applied (Group I), or the animals were treated daily with a combination of an angiotensin enzyme converter inhibitor and a diuretic (enalapril and furosemide, Group IE), or a calcium channel blocker (diltiazem, Group ID). The equivalent dose of methacholine causing a 100% increase in Raw (ED50) was determined in each group. Diastolic pulmonary arterial pressure (PapD) was assessed by introducing a catheter into the pulmonary artery.
The sustained presence of a LVD increased PapD in all groups of rats, with variable but significant elevations in Groups I (p = 0.004), ID (p = 0.013) and IE (p = 0.006). A LVD for 8 weeks induced no changes in baseline Raw but elevated the EELV independently of the treatments. In Group I, BHR consistently developed following the LVD, with a significant decrease in ED50 from 10.0 ± 2.5 to 6.9 ± 2.5 μg/kg/min (p = 0.006). The BHR was completely abolished in both Groups ID and IE, with no changes in ED50 (9.5 ± 3.6 vs. 10.7 ± 4.7, p = 0.33 and 10.6 ± 2.1 vs. 9.8 ± 3.5 μg/kg/min p = 0.56, respectively).
These findings suggest that a LVD following coronary ischaemia consistently induces BHR. The more consistent efficacy of both treatment strategies in preventing BHR than in treating the adverse pulmonary vascular consequences suggests the benefit of both calcium channel blockade and ACE inhibition to counteract the airway susceptibility following a LVD.
PMCID: PMC3564931  PMID: 23237296
21.  Respiratory symptoms in adults are related to impaired quality of life, regardless of asthma and COPD: results from the European community respiratory health survey 
Respiratory symptoms are common in the general population, and their presence is related to Health-related quality of life (HRQoL). The objective was to describe the association of respiratory symptoms with HRQoL in subjects with and without asthma or COPD and to investigate the role of atopy, bronchial hyperresponsiveness (BHR), and lung function in HRQoL.
The European Community Respiratory Health Survey (ECRHS) I and II provided data on HRQoL, lung function, respiratory symptoms, asthma, atopy, and BHR from 6009 subjects. Generic HRQoL was assessed through the physical component summary (PCS) score and the mental component summary (MCS) score of the SF-36.
Factor analyses and linear regressions adjusted for age, gender, smoking, occupation, BMI, comorbidity, and study centre were conducted.
Having breathlessness at rest in ECRHS II was associated with mean score (95% CI) impairment in PCS of -8.05 (-11.18, -4.93). Impairment in MCS score in subjects waking up with chest tightness was -4.02 (-5.51, -2.52). The magnitude of HRQoL impairment associated with respiratory symptoms was similar for subjects with and without asthma/COPD. Adjustments for atopy, BHR, and lung function did not explain the association of respiratory symptoms and HRQoL in subjects without asthma and/or COPD.
Subjects with respiratory symptoms had poorer HRQoL; including subjects without a diagnosis of asthma or COPD. These findings suggest that respiratory symptoms in the absence of a medical diagnosis of asthma or COPD are by no means trivial, and that clarifying the nature and natural history of respiratory symptoms is a relevant challenge.
Several community studies have estimated the prevalence of common respiratory symptoms like cough, dyspnoea, and wheeze in adults [1-3]. Although the prevalence varies to a large degree between studies and geographical areas, respiratory symptoms are quite common. The prevalences of respiratory symptoms in the European Community Respiratory Health Study (ECRHS) varied from one percent to 35% [1]. In fact, two studies have reported that more than half of the adult population suffers from one or more respiratory symptoms [4,5].
Respiratory symptoms are important markers of the risk of having or developing disease. Respiratory symptoms have been shown to be predictors for lung function decline [6-8], asthma [9,10], and even all-cause mortality in a general population study [11]. In patients with a known diagnosis of asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), respiratory symptoms are important determinants of reduced health related quality of life (HRQoL) [12-15]. The prevalence of respiratory symptoms exceeds the combined prevalences of asthma and COPD, and both asthma and COPD are frequently undiagnosed diseases [16-18]. Thus, the high prevalence of respipratory symptoms may mirror undiagnosed and untreated disease.
The common occurrence of respiratory symptoms calls for attention to how these symptoms affect health also in subjects with no diagnosis of obstructive airways disease. Impaired HRQoL in the presence of respiratory symptoms have been found in two population-based studies [6,19], but no study of respiratory sypmtoms and HRQoL have separate analyses for subjects with and without asthma and COPD, and no study provide information about extensive objective measurements of respiratory health.
The ECRHS is a randomly sampled, multi-cultural, population based cohort study. The ECRHS included measurements of atopy, bronchial hyperresponsiveness (BHR), and lung function, and offers a unique opportunity to investigate how respiratory symptoms affect HRQoL among subjects both with and without obstructive lung disease.
In the present paper we aimed to: 1) Describe the relationship between respiratory symptoms and HRQoL in an international adult general population and: 2) To assess whether this relationship varied with presence of asthma and/or COPD, or presence of objective functional markers like atopy and BHR.
PMCID: PMC2954977  PMID: 20875099
22.  Airway neutrophilia in stable and bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome patients following lung transplantation 
Thorax  2000;55(1):53-59.
BACKGROUND—The bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome (BOS) remains the major constraint on the long term success of lung transplantation. Neutrophils have been associated with fibrosing lung conditions and have been noted to be increased in the bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid of patients with BOS.
METHODS—This study was undertaken to examine neutrophil accumulation in the BAL fluid, airway wall and lung parenchyma, as well as levels of interleukin (IL)-8 in the BAL fluid, in normal controls and lung transplant recipients with and without BOS. Bronchoscopic examination included endobronchial biopsy (EBB), BAL fluid, and transbronchial biopsy (TBB) sampling. Tissue neutrophils were identified by neutrophil elastase staining on 3 µm paraffin biopsy sections and quantified by computerised image analyser. IL-8 levels were measured in unconcentrated BAL fluid by ELISA.
RESULTS—Compared with controls, airway wall neutrophilia was increased in both stable lung transplant recipients and those with BOS (p<0.05). BAL neutrophils and IL-8 levels were also increased in both groups of transplant recipients compared with controls (p<0.01), the levels being significantly higher in the BOS group (p<0.01). Neutrophil numbers in the lung parenchyma were not significantly different between the two groups of lung transplant recipients.
CONCLUSION—Increased levels of neutrophils are present in the airway wall and BAL fluid of lung transplant recipients with and without BOS. BAL fluid levels of IL-8 are also increased, raising the possibility that neutrophils and/or IL-8 may play a part in the pathogenesis of BOS following lung transplantation.

PMCID: PMC1745588  PMID: 10607802
23.  Relationship between the inflammatory infiltrate in bronchial biopsy specimens and clinical severity of asthma in patients treated with inhaled steroids. 
Thorax  1996;51(5):496-502.
BACKGROUND: Current guidelines on the management of asthma advocate the use of anti-inflammatory treatment in all but mild disease. They define disease control in terms of clinical criteria such as lung function and symptoms. However, the relationship between the clinical control of the disease and inflammation of the airways is not clear. A cross sectional study was therefore undertaken to investigate the relationship between airways inflammation and measures of clinical control and bronchial hyperresponsiveness in asthmatic patients treated with inhaled steroids. METHODS: Twenty six atopic adults (19-45 years) with mild to moderate asthma (baseline forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) > or = 50% predicted, concentration of histamine causing a 20% fall in FEV1 (PC20) 0.02-7.6 mg/ml) on regular treatment with inhaled steroids entered the study. Diary card recordings during the two weeks before a methacholine challenge test and bronchoscopic examination were used to determine peak flow variability, symptom scores, and use of beta 2 agonists. Biopsy specimens were taken by fibreoptic bronchoscopy from the carina of the right lower and middle lobes, and from the main carina. Immunohistochemical staining was performed on cryostat sections with monoclonal antibodies against: eosinophil cationic protein (EG1, EG2), mast cell tryptase (AA1), CD45, CD22, CD3, CD4, CD8, CD25, and CD45RO. The number of positively stained cells in the lamina propria was counted twice by using an interactive display system. RESULTS: There were no differences in cell numbers between the three sites from which biopsy specimens were taken. The PC20 for methacholine was inversely related to the average number of total leucocytes, EG1+, and EG2+ cells, mast cells, CD8+, and CD45RO+ cells in the lamina propria. These relationships were similar for each of the biopsy sites. Symptom scores, beta 2 agonist usage, FEV1, and peak flow variability were not related to any of the cell counts. CONCLUSIONS: Infiltration of inflammatory cells in the lamina propria of the airways seems to persist in asthmatic outpatients despite regular treatment with inhaled steroids. The number of infiltrating leucocytes such as mast cells, (activated) eosinophils, CD8+, and CD45RO+ cells in bronchial biopsy specimens from these patients appears to be reflected by airway hyperresponsiveness to methacholine, but not by symptoms or lung function. These findings may have implications for the adjustment of anti-inflammatory treatment of patients with asthma.
PMCID: PMC473594  PMID: 8711677
24.  Exaggerated IL-17 response to epicutaneous sensitization mediates airway inflammation in the absence of IL-4 and IL-13 
Atopic dermatitis (AD) is characterized by local and systemic Th2 responses to cutaneously introduced allergens and is a risk factor for asthma. Blockade of Th2 cytokines has been suggested as therapy for AD.
To examine the effect of the absence of IL-4 and IL-13 on the Th-17 response to epicutaneous (EC) sensitization in a mouse model of allergic skin inflammation with features of AD.
Wild-type (WT), IL-4KO, IL-13KO and IL-4/13 double KO (DKO) mice were subjected to EC sensitization with ovalbumin (OVA) or saline and airway challenged with OVA. Systemic immune responses to OVA, skin and airway inflammation, and airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR) were examined.
OVA sensitized DKO mice exhibited impaired Th2 driven responses with undetectable OVA specific IgE and severely diminished eosinophil infiltration at sensitized skin sites, but intact dermal infiltration with CD4+ cells. DKO mice mounted an exaggerated IL-17A, but normal IFN-γ and IL-5 systemic responses. Airway challenge of these mice with OVA caused marked upregulation of IL-17 mRNA expression in the lungs, increased neutrophilia in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF), airway inflammation characterized by mononuclear cell infiltration with no detectable eosinophils, and bronchial hyperresponsiveness to methacholine that were reversed by IL-17 blockade. IL-4, but not IL-13, was identified as the major Th2 cytokine that downregulates the IL-17 response in EC sensitized mice.
EC sensitization in the absence of IL-4/IL-13 induces an exaggerated Th17 response systemically, and in lungs following antigen challenge that results in airway inflammation and AHR.
Clinical implications
Blockade of IL-4 may promote IL-17-mediated airway inflammation in AD.
PMCID: PMC2895457  PMID: 19815118
IL-17; Th2 cytokines; atopic dermatitis; asthma
25.  Bronchial Responsiveness to Dry Air Hyperventilation in Smokers May Predict Decline in Airway Status Using Indirect Methods 
Lung  2013;191(2):183-190.
Disabling respiratory symptoms and rapid decline of lung function may occur in susceptible tobacco smokers. Bronchial hyperresponsiveness (BHR) elicited by direct challenge methods predicts worse lung function outcomes. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether BHR to isocapnic hyperventilation of dry air (IHDA) was associated with rapid deterioration in airway status and respiratory symptoms.
One hundred twenty-eight smokers and 26 age- and sex-matched healthy individuals with no history of smoking were investigated. All subjects completed a questionnaire. Spirometry and impulse oscillometry (IOS) measurements were recorded before and after 4 min of IHDA. The tests were repeated after 3 years in 102 smokers and 11 controls.
Eighty-five smokers (66 %) responded to the challenge with a ≥2.4-Hz increase in resonant frequency (Fres), the cutoff limit defining BHR, as recorded by IOS. They had higher Fres at baseline compared to nonresponding smokers [12.8 ± 3.2 vs. 11.5 ± 3.4 Hz (p < 0.05)] and lower FEV1 [83 ± 13 vs. 89 ± 13 % predicted (p < 0.05)]. Multivariable logistic regression analysis indicated that wheezing (odds ratio = 3.7, p < 0.01) and coughing (odds ratio = 8.1, p < 0.05) were significantly associated with hyperresponsiveness. An increase in Fres was recorded after 3 years in responding smokers but not in nonresponders or controls. The difference remained when subjects with COPD were excluded.
The proportion of hyperresponsive smokers was unexpectedly high and there was a close association between wheezing and coughing and BHR. Only BHR could discriminate smokers with rapid deterioration of airway status from others.
PMCID: PMC3605489  PMID: 23355083
Bronchial hyperresponsiveness; Impulse oscillometry; Isocapnic hyperventilation of dry air; Resonant frequency; Tobacco smoke

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