Relationship between small airway function and health status, dyspnea and disease control in asthma

Respiration. 2010;80(2):120-6. doi: 10.1159/000242113. Epub 2009 Sep 22.


Background: Small airways play important roles in the pathophysiology of asthma. However, relationships between small airway involvement and health status and dyspnea have not been investigated.

Objectives: It was the aim of this study to assess the relationships between proximal and peripheral airway functions and health status, dyspnea and disease control in patients with asthma, using impulse oscillometry (IOS).

Methods: We performed IOS, spirometry and assessment of health status (Asthma Quality of Life Questionnaire and St. George's Respiratory Questionnaire), dyspnea (Baseline Dyspnea Index) and disease control (Asthma Control Questionnaire) in 65 asthmatics and evaluated their relationships.

Results: Peripheral airway function as evaluated by IOS [R5-R20 (the fall in resistance from 5 to 20 Hz) and X5 (reactance at 5 Hz)], in addition to the proximal airway index (R20), significantly correlated with health status, dyspnea and disease control. Multiple regression analyses revealed that peripheral airway function significantly contributes to these, independently of the proximal airway index. In contrast, forced expiratory volume in 1 s did not significantly contribute to health status or dyspnea.

Conclusions: IOS correlated better with clinical symptoms and asthma control than spirometry in patients with asthma. Peripheral and proximal airway functions as assessed separately by IOS independently contribute to health status, dyspnea and disease control, indicating that peripheral airways also represent an important therapeutic target.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Asthma / complications
  • Asthma / physiopathology*
  • Bronchioles / physiopathology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dyspnea / etiology
  • Dyspnea / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oscillometry
  • Spirometry