The relationship of nonspecific bronchial responsiveness to the occurrence of respiratory symptoms and decreased levels of pulmonary function. The Normative Aging Study

Am Rev Respir Dis. 1987 Jun;135(6):1255-60. doi: 10.1164/arrd.1987.135.6.1255.


Nonspecific bronchial responsiveness was assessed by an abbreviated methacholine challenge test in 458 male participants of the Normative Aging Study, who also completed a respiratory questionnaire and spirometry. A positive response to the methacholine challenge test was defined as a greater than or equal to 20% decline in FEV1 during the test. Cigarette smoking was significantly associated with a positive methacholine response (p less than 0.001). Logistic regression analyses indicated that there was a significant association between a positive response to methacholine and both any wheeze (p = 0.002) and persistent wheeze (p less than 0.001) after taking into account smoking status and age; an association between responsiveness and chronic cough was of borderline significance (p = 0.06). Multiple linear regression analyses indicated that positive methacholine responsiveness was independently associated with lower levels of FEV1 (p less than 0.001) and FEF25-75 (p less than 0.001). Using the log of the dose-response slope rather than a dichotomous variable to characterize responder status yielded very similar results in the linear and logistic models. The findings of this cross-sectional study suggest that increased level of nonspecific responsiveness is significantly associated with wheeze and cough symptoms and decreased levels of pulmonary function in adult men. Longitudinal follow-up of these men should shed light on the importance of nonspecific responsiveness as a risk factor for the subsequent development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / physiology
  • Bronchi / physiopathology*
  • Bronchial Provocation Tests
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Forced Expiratory Volume
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Lung / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Methacholine Chloride
  • Methacholine Compounds
  • Middle Aged
  • Respiration Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Respiratory Sounds / physiopathology
  • Smoking
  • Vital Capacity


  • Methacholine Compounds
  • Methacholine Chloride