Exhaled breath contains suspended particles of respiratory tract lining fluid from the small airways. The particles are formed when closed airways open during inhalation. We have developed a method called Particles in Exhaled air (PExA® ) to measure and sample these particles in the exhaled aerosol. Here, we use the PExA® method to study the effects of birch pollen exposure on the small airways of individuals with asthma and birch pollen allergy. We hypothesized that birch pollen-induced inflammation could change the concentrations of surfactant protein A and albumin in the respiratory tract lining fluid of the small airways and influence the amount of exhaled particles. The amount of exhaled particles was reduced after birch pollen exposure in subjects with asthma and birch pollen allergy, but no significant effect on the concentrations of surfactant protein A and albumin in exhaled particles was found. The reduction in the number of exhaled particles may be due to inflammation in the small airways, which would reduce their diameter and potentially reduce the number of small airways that open and close during inhalation and exhalation.
Keywords: aerosol; airway opening; albumin; asthma; birch pollen; exhaled breath condensate; exhaled particles; inflammation; surfactant protein A.
© 2015 The Authors. Clinical Physiology and Functional Imaging published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.