Peripheral lung resistance in normal and asthmatic subjects

Am Rev Respir Dis. 1990 Mar;141(3):584-8. doi: 10.1164/ajrccm/141.3.584.


In obstructive lung disease, peripheral airways are a major site of pathologic abnormalities. However, resistance to airflow in small airways in the periphery of the lung accounts for only a small fraction of total airway resistance. Consequently, abnormalities of small airway function may not be readily detected using routine pulmonary function testing. In the present study, resistance of the peripheral lung was examined directly in six normal subjects and nine mildly asthmatic subjects. There were no significant differences between the normal and asthmatic groups in pulmonary function assessed by spirometry (FEV1, FVC) and body plethysmography (specific airway conductance). Direct measurements of peripheral lung function were made using a fiberoptic bronchoscope wedged into a subsegmental, right upper lobe bronchus. Using a double-lumen catheter inserted into the instrument channel of the bronchoscope, pressures (PB) produced by three or more different levels of gas flow (V) (5% CO2 in air) between 50 and 500 ml/min were measured. All pressure measurements were made at a constant lung volume (i.e., functional residual capacity) confirmed by monitoring transpulmonary pressure with an esophageal balloon. The pressure-flow relationship in both normal and asthmatic subjects could be approximated by a straight line through the origin, demonstrating these airways to be relatively nondistensible. Peripheral lung resistance (Rp) was defined by PB/V and averaged for three or more levels of flow.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

MeSH terms

  • Airway Resistance* / drug effects
  • Asthma / physiopathology*
  • Bronchial Provocation Tests
  • Bronchoscopy / methods
  • Humans
  • Isoproterenol / pharmacology
  • Lung / drug effects
  • Lung / physiology
  • Lung / physiopathology*
  • Methacholine Chloride
  • Methacholine Compounds
  • Pressure
  • Reference Values
  • Respiratory Function Tests


  • Methacholine Compounds
  • Methacholine Chloride
  • Isoproterenol