Responsiveness, inflammation, and effects of deep breaths on obstruction in mild asthma

J Appl Physiol (1985). 1989 May;66(5):2298-304. doi: 10.1152/jappl.1989.66.5.2298.


Using cellular and biochemical characteristics of bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) liquid as an index of inflammation, we examined the relationships between change of airway caliber after a deep inhalation (DI), degree of base-line airway hyperresponsiveness, and peripheral airway inflammation in a group of 16 atopic asymptomatic mild asthmatics and 6 normal subjects. Compared with normal subjects, asthmatics demonstrated 1) significantly higher BAL concentrations of histamine, total protein, the sulfidopeptide leukotrienes (SRS-A), and leukotiene B4; 2) a decrease in specific airway conductance (sGaw) with a DI at base line vs. an increase in normal subjects (before vs. after percent change in sGaw, -10 vs. 12, P less than 0.05); and 3) no significant difference in BAL total cell count or leukocyte differential. Significant correlations were demonstrated between 1) percent of BAL eosinophils vs. degree of airway hyperresponsiveness; 2) base-line level of airway obstruction vs. degree of hyperresponsiveness; 3) effects of a DI vs. BAL concentrations of eosinophils, total protein, and histamine; 4) base-line forced expired volume in 1 s vs. BAL concentrations of total protein and histamine; and 5) BAL concentrations of the various mediators with each other. These data support the notion that 1) the response to a DI in mild, stable asthmatics represents a physiological indicator of peripheral obstruction because of inflammation and 2) this inflammation is associated with increases in several known mediators of airway inflammation and hyperreactivity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Asthma / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammation
  • Leukotrienes / analysis
  • Lung / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Prostaglandins / analysis
  • Reference Values
  • Respiration*
  • Therapeutic Irrigation


  • Leukotrienes
  • Prostaglandins