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1.  Is nocturnal asthma caused by changes in airway cholinergic activity? 
Thorax  1988;43(9):720-724.
A randomised, double blind, placebo controlled crossover trial of high dose nebulised ipratropium was carried out in 10 asthmatic patients with documented nocturnal bronchoconstriction. Patients received nebulised saline or ipratropium 1 mg at 10 pm and 2 am on two nights. Absolute peak flow (PEF) rates were higher throughout the night after the patients had received ipratropium (at 2 am, for example, mean (SEM) PEF was 353 after ipratropium and 285 l/min after placebo). The fall in PEF overnight, however, was similar with ipratropium and placebo. Patients were given a further 1 mg nebulised ipratropium at 6 am on both nights. There was a significant overnight fall in PEF on the ipratropium night even when comparisons were made between the times that maximal cholinergic blockade would be expected, PEF falling between 11.30 pm and 7.30 am from 429 to 369 l/min. The percentage increase in PEF, though not the absolute values, was greater after ipratropium at 6 am than at 10 pm. These results confirm that ipratropium raises PEF throughout the night in asthmatic patients, but suggest that nocturnal bronchoconstriction is not due solely to an increase in airway cholinergic activity at night.
PMCID: PMC461462  PMID: 2973665
2.  Breathing patterns during sleep in patients with nocturnal asthma. 
Thorax  1987;42(8):600-603.
Breathing patterns early and late in the night, at the same sleep stage, were compared in six healthy subjects and 15 adults with nocturnal asthma, to try to identify changes of overnight bronchoconstriction, and breathing patterns at different sleep stages, to see whether there were changes related to sleep stages that were indicative of bronchoconstriction. Despite an average 31% fall in FEV1 overnight in the patients with asthma, neither breathing frequency nor expiratory time, which might be expected to change during bronchoconstriction, was different early in the night from late in the night, nor did they differ between sleep stages. There was no evidence of asynchronous movement of the chest and abdomen in any patient. This study did not identify any abnormality of breathing pattern that would indicate the development of nocturnal asthma without the need to awaken the patient.
PMCID: PMC460860  PMID: 3509951
3.  Effect of sleep deprivation on overnight bronchoconstriction in nocturnal asthma. 
Thorax  1986;41(9):676-680.
Nocturnal cough and wheeze are common in asthma. The cause of nocturnal asthma is unknown and there is conflicting evidence on whether sleep is a factor. Twelve adult asthmatic subjects with nocturnal wheeze were studied on two occasions: on one night subjects were allowed to sleep and on the other they were kept awake all night, wakefulness being confirmed by electroencephalogram. Every patient developed bronchoconstriction overnight both on the asleep night, when peak expiratory flow (PEF) fell from a mean (SE) of 418 (40) 1 min-1 at 10 pm to 270 (46) 1 min-1 in the morning, and on the awake night (PEF 10 pm 465 (43), morning 371 (43) 1 min-1). The morning values of PEF were, however, higher (p less than 0.1) after the awake night and both the absolute and the percentage overnight falls in PEF were greater when the patients slept (asleep night 38% (6%), awake night 20% (4%); p less than 0.01). This study suggests that sleep is an important factor in determining overnight bronchoconstriction in patients with nocturnal asthma.
PMCID: PMC460429  PMID: 3787554

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