Heat and water flux in the intrathoracic airways and exercise-induced asthma

J Appl Physiol (1985). 1987 Oct;63(4):1681-91. doi: 10.1152/jappl.1987.63.4.1681.


To explore the relationship between the flux of heat and water within the respiratory tract during exercise and recovery to the development of exercise-induced asthma (EIA), we recorded airstream temperature at multiple points throughout the tracheobronchial tree in 10 normal and 10 asthmatic subjects before, during, and after cycle ergometry. In both groups, the intra-airway temperature fell progressively as ventilation increased, and there were no significant differences between the thermal profiles of the two populations at rest or during exercise. Calculation of water losses and the osmolality of the airway surface fluid failed to demonstrate significant airway drying in either group. With cessation of the work load, the airstream temperature increased abruptly, rising two times more rapidly in the asthmatics than the normals. Since the major source of heat in these experiments is the bronchial circulation, our findings suggest a reaction sequence consisting of vasoconstriction and airway cooling during exercise followed by a rapid resupply of heat when exercise ceases. The latter may cause the hyperplastic capillary bed in the airways of asthmatics to develop an exaggerated rebound hyperemia which may lead to airway edema and EIA.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Asthma / physiopathology*
  • Asthma, Exercise-Induced / physiopathology*
  • Body Temperature Regulation*
  • Body Water / metabolism*
  • Bronchi / blood supply
  • Bronchial Provocation Tests
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Physical Exertion*
  • Respiratory System / metabolism
  • Respiratory System / physiopathology*