Circadian variation in allergen and nonspecific bronchial responsiveness in asthma

Chronobiol Int. 1999 Sep;16(5):631-9. doi: 10.3109/07420529908998732.


In a majority of patients, exacerbations of asthma occur more frequently during the night than day. Many hypotheses have been proposed to explain such variation in asthma. The airways of asthmatic persons are characterized by an abnormal degree of inflammation and bronchial hyperresponsiveness to both nonspecific and specific challenges. Studies of both children and adults with asthma document marked circadian rhythmicity in the response of airways to bronchial challenges with histamine, methacholine, acetylcholine, saline, and house dust mite. Taken together, the findings of these investigations indicate that the hyperreactivity of airways to these agents is more profound and prolonged following evening and overnight tests compared to tests conducted in the midday and afternoon. The temporal pattern in bronchial response to the hyperventilation of cold dry air is different. The hyperresponsiveness of airways to this challenge is greatest in the afternoon. The amplitude of the circadian rhythm in airway hyperreactivity seems to be correlated to the amplitude of the circadian rhythm of pulmonary function; the greater the day-night difference in bronchial reactivity is, the greater is the day-night difference in flow rates.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Allergens / administration & dosage
  • Animals
  • Asthma / etiology
  • Asthma / physiopathology*
  • Bronchial Hyperreactivity*
  • Bronchial Provocation Tests
  • Child
  • Circadian Rhythm*
  • Humans
  • Mites / immunology


  • Allergens