Airway constriction pattern is a central component of asthma severity: the role of deep inspirations

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2001 Jul 15;164(2):207-15. doi: 10.1164/ajrccm.164.2.2008119.


Measurements of lung resistance and elastance (RL and EL) from 0.1 to 8 Hz reflect both the mean level and pattern of lung constriction. The goal of this study was to establish a relation between a deep inspiration (DI) and the heterogeneity of constriction in healthy versus asthmatic subjects. Constriction pattern was assessed from measurements of the RL and EL from 0.1 to 8 Hz in seven healthy subjects and in 12 asthmatics. These data were acquired before and after a DI and before and after a standard methacholine challenge versus a modified challenge in which a DI is prohibited. Generally, avoidance of a DI increased responsiveness. In healthy subjects and in those with mild-to-moderate baseline asthma a bronchial challenge, especially during self-inhibited DI, produced a heterogenous pattern of constriction inclusive of randomly distributed airway closures or near closures. Nevertheless, such subjects were able to reopen their airways via a DI. In contrast, in subjects with severe baseline asthma, there is a more extreme heterogeneous constriction pattern with random airway closures even at baseline. Further, there is no residual bronchodilatory effect of a DI either before or after bronchial challenge. We conjecture that inflammation and wall-remodeling facilitate a dangerous degree of heterogeneous constriction inclusive of airway closures or near closures, and contribute to the prevention of a DI from having a residual bronchodilatory effect.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Airway Resistance*
  • Asthma / physiopathology*
  • Bronchoconstriction*
  • Elasticity
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Respiration*
  • Severity of Illness Index