Asthmatic responses to passive cigarette smoke: persistence of reactivity and effect of medications

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1991 Dec;88(6):861-9. doi: 10.1016/0091-6749(91)90242-g.


The present study assessed the persistence of cigarette-smoke reactivity and the effects of drug pretreatment on bronchial responsiveness to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS). Two groups of subjects were chosen for the study. Group I consisted of 15 atopic smoke-sensitive subjects with asthma, six of whom were defined "reactors" and nine "nonreactors" to ETS challenge. Group II consisted of 15 atopic subjects without asthma and with documented upper respiratory tract symptoms on exposure to ETS. All subjects were challenged for 2 to 6 hours with mechanically generated ETS in a static inhalation chamber. Five/six subjects in group I, who were previously demonstrated as reactors 24 months earlier, remained reactive within 1 to 2 hours of continuous ETS exposure. Pretreatment with albuterol, cromolyn, and a combination of albuterol and cromolyn 30 minutes before ETS exposure significantly diminished airway reactivity to ETS. All nine previous nonreactors in group I remained nonreactive despite rechallenge with ETS for up to 6 hours. Group II subjects challenged under identical conditions did not reveal a significant decline in FEV1 on challenge with ETS. These studies demonstrate the persistence of ETS reactivity during a 2-year period. Although cromolyn sodium and/or albuterol can protect against reactivity, mechanisms of ETS-induced airway reactivity remain unknown.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Albuterol / therapeutic use
  • Asthma / drug therapy
  • Asthma / etiology*
  • Asthma / physiopathology
  • Bronchial Provocation Tests
  • Cromolyn Sodium / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Methacholine Chloride
  • Middle Aged
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Respiratory Hypersensitivity / physiopathology
  • Skin Tests
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / adverse effects*


  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution
  • Methacholine Chloride
  • Cromolyn Sodium
  • Albuterol