Bronchial Provocation Testing for the Identification of Exercise-Induced Bronchoconstriction

J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract. 2020 Jul-Aug;8(7):2156-2164. doi: 10.1016/j.jaip.2020.03.034.


Exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB) occurs in patients with asthma, children, and otherwise healthy athletes. Poor diagnostic accuracy of respiratory symptoms during exercise requires objective assessment of EIB. The standardized tests currently available are based on the assumption that the provoking stimulus to EIB is dehydration of the airway surface fluid due to conditioning large volumes of inhaled air. "Indirect" bronchial provocation tests that use stimuli to cause endogenous release of bronchoconstricting mediators from airway inflammatory cells include dry air hyperpnea (eg, exercise and eucapnic voluntary hyperpnea) and osmotic aerosols (eg, inhaled mannitol). The airway response to different indirect tests is generally similar in patients with asthma and healthy athletes with EIB. Furthermore, the airway sensitivity to these tests is modified by the same pharmacotherapy used to treat asthma. In contrast, pharmacological agents such as methacholine, given by inhalation, act directly on smooth muscle to cause contraction. These "direct" tests have been used traditionally to identify airway hyperresponsiveness in clinical asthma but are less useful to diagnose EIB. The mechanistic differences between indirect and direct tests have helped to elucidate the events leading to airway narrowing in patients with asthma and elite athletes, while improving the clinical utility of these tests to diagnose and manage EIB.

Keywords: Asthma; Bronchial provocation test; Eucapnic voluntary hyperpnea; Exercise-induced bronchoconstriction; Mannitol; Methacholine.

MeSH terms

  • Asthma*
  • Asthma, Exercise-Induced* / diagnosis
  • Bronchial Provocation Tests
  • Bronchoconstriction
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Methacholine Chloride


  • Methacholine Chloride