Study objectives: The effects of gastroesophageal reflux on airway hyperresponsiveness in patients with bronchial asthma have yet to be studied in significant detail. The purpose of the present study was to determine how esophageal acid perfusion could change airway responsiveness in patients with bronchial asthma.
Patients and interventions: In seven patients with bronchial asthma (mean +/- SD age, 55.1 +/- 6.4 years; four women and three men), esophageal pH was monitored by a pH meter and airway responsiveness was evaluated by aerosol inhalation of methacholine, during esophageal perfusion through an esophageal tube filled with either saline solution or 0. 1N hydrochloric acid (HCl), the order of which was selected at random, in 1-week intervals. Spirometry was also performed during esophageal pH monitoring.
Results: A significant decrease in the geometric mean of airway sensitivity or the concentration of methacholine causing a 35% fall in respiratory conductance was observed during esophageal HCl perfusion compared with that of saline solution perfusion (p < 0.01 or p < 0.003), although no significant changes were observed in vital capacity, FEV(1), peak expiratory flow, respiratory resistance, or slope of respiratory conductance during the periods of saline solution and HCl perfusion.
Conclusion: We concluded that an increase in airway hyperresponsiveness was induced when HCl stimulated the esophagus in patients with bronchial asthma. These results suggest that esophageal reflux is one of the important factors that aggravate asthmatic status.