Exhaled nitric oxide and asthma in young children

Pediatr Pulmonol. 2001 Oct;32(4):308-13. doi: 10.1002/ppul.1124.


Exhaled nitric oxide (eNO) has been used to diagnose asthma in adults and children using either the slow vital capacity method (SVCm) or, in younger children, the tidal breathing method (TBm). Adenosine 5'-monophosphate (AMP) challenge also has been found to be a sensitive and specific test for the diagnosis of asthma. In the present study, we used the AMP provocation concentration that caused wheezing (PCW) to confirm the diagnosis of asthma (PCW < or = 200 mg/mL). We studied 36 children (2-7 years) with mild intermittent asthma, 13 children (3-7 years) with moderate persistent asthma treated with inhaled steroids, 20 nonasthmatic children (2-7 years) with chronic cough and recurrent pneumonia, and 15 healthy children (4-6 years). Expired gas was collected in collection bags by the TBm, and eNO was measured. We evaluated the efficacy of eNO values in diagnosing asthma. The mean eNO level of the mild intermittent asthmatic children (5.6 +/- 0.4 ppb) not receiving inhaled corticosteroids was significantly higher (ANOVA P < 0.0001) than that of the moderate persistent asthmatics who were treated with inhaled steroids, the nonasthmatic children with chronic cough, and the group of healthy children (3.7 +/- 0.6 ppb, P < 0.05; 3.2 +/- 0.3 ppb, P < 0.001; 2.2 +/- 0.2 ppb, P < 0.001, respectively). The points of intersection for sensitivity and specificity curves of eNO to differentiate mild intermittent asthmatics from nonasthmatic children with chronic cough and from healthy children were 77% and 88% for eNO values of 3.8 ppb and 2.9 ppb, respectively. We conclude that eNO collected by the TBm can differentiate steroid-naive young children with intermittent asthma from healthy children, from nonasthmatic children with chronic cough, and from asthmatic children treated with inhaled steroids.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Asthma / diagnosis*
  • Breath Tests
  • Bronchial Provocation Tests
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Luminescent Measurements
  • Male
  • Nitric Oxide / analysis*
  • Probability
  • Reference Values
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Severity of Illness Index


  • Nitric Oxide