Does nitrogen dioxide exposure increase airways responsiveness?

Toxicol Ind Health. 1992 Sep-Oct;8(5):273-83.


A number of reports have suggested that exposure to nitrogen dioxide (NO2) may cause increased airways responsiveness (AR). Twenty studies of asthmatics and five studies of healthy subjects exposed to NO2 were used to test this hypothesis using a simple method of meta-analysis. Individual data were obtained for the above studies and the direction of change in AR was determined for each subject. Only studies with available individual data were used. Subjects from these studies whose directional change in AR could not be determined were excluded. The fraction of positive responses (i.e. increased AR) was determined for all subjects within a group and tested for significance using a sign test. Data were also grouped according to NO2 concentration and by whether the exposure included exercise. There was an overall trend among asthmatics for AR to increase (60%) but this was primarily due to increased AR seen in resting exposures (70%). Among healthy subjects AR also increased with NO2 exposure but only at concentrations above 1.0 ppm. This analysis suggests that NO2 exposure causes increased airway responsiveness in healthy and asthmatic subjects but that exercise during exposure may modify this response in asthmatics.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Asthma / physiopathology*
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Exercise
  • Humans
  • Lung / drug effects*
  • Lung / physiology
  • Nitrogen Dioxide / adverse effects*


  • Nitrogen Dioxide