Noninvasive measurement of airway inflammation using exhaled nitric oxide and induced sputum. Current status and future use

Clin Chest Med. 2000 Jun;21(2):345-60. doi: 10.1016/s0272-5231(05)70271-9.


The recent use of IS and the analysis of exhaled mediators such as NO are important steps forward in our ability to noninvasively assess airway inflammation without the need to resort to bronchoscopy. Exhaled NO and IS are complementary techniques that provide different information (Table 1). Induced sputum can provide knowledge regarding the cells and mediators participating in the inflammatory response, but is time consuming and expensive. Exhaled NO measurement is performed simply and quickly, and is a nonspecific marker of an inflammatory process. The initial capital costs of equipment for NO analysis are high, however. Once the problems of standardized collection and oropharyngeal contamination have been dealt with, BC may also prove to be an additional tool for the assessment of airway inflammation. It is likely that the next 10 years will see the establishment of these noninvasive tools for the clinical assessment of airway inflammation and oxidative stress, and change the entire way we manage asthma.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Asthma / diagnosis
  • Asthma / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Nitric Oxide / analysis*
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase / metabolism
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type II
  • Respiratory System / pathology*
  • Sputum / chemistry*


  • Nitric Oxide
  • NOS2 protein, human
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type II