Inhalation of 0.30 ppm nitrogen dioxide potentiates exercise-induced bronchospasm in asthmatics

Am Rev Respir Dis. 1986 Dec;134(6):1203-8. doi: 10.1164/arrd.1986.134.6.1203.


Epidemiologic studies support an association among elevated levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), increased respiratory symptoms, and alterations in lung function. To determine if low level NO2 inhalation potentiates exercise-induced bronchospasm, 15 asthmatic subjects, defined by airway constriction with cold air provocation, inhaled 0.30 ppm (560 micrograms/m3) NO2 for 30 min. All asthmatics inhaled either air or 0.30 ppm NO2 via a mouthpiece for 20 min at rest followed by 10 min of exercise on a bicycle ergometer at a workload of 300 kpm/min, producing a 3-fold or greater increase in minute ventilation. Our studies showed 72 +/- 2 (SE)% deposition of inhaled NO2 at rest and 87 +/- 1% deposition with exercise (p less than 0.001). Nitrogen dioxide inhalation at rest resulted in no significant change in pulmonary function. Nitrogen dioxide inhalation plus exercise compared to control (air) exposure plus exercise produced significantly greater reductions in FEV (p less than 0.01) and partial expiratory flow rates at 60% of total lung capacity (p less than 0.05). One hour after completion of NO2 exposure and exercise, pulmonary function had returned to baseline values. To determine if NO2 exposure caused increased reactivity to a known bronchoconstrictor, asthmatic subjects inhaled cold air (range: -11 +/- 2 degrees C) at 3 successive rates of isocapnic ventilation. The response to cold air was expressed as the respiratory heat exchange required to reduce the FEV by 10% (PD10RHE). Prior NO2 exposure potentiated the fall in FEV, PD10RHE, and specific airway conductance (p less than 0.05) after isocapnic cold air hyperventilation, compared to the control exposure.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Asthma / etiology*
  • Asthma, Exercise-Induced / etiology*
  • Asthma, Exercise-Induced / physiopathology
  • Bronchial Provocation Tests / methods
  • Cold Temperature
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Humans
  • Hyperventilation / physiopathology
  • Lung / drug effects
  • Lung / physiopathology
  • Nitrogen Dioxide / adverse effects*
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Rest
  • Time Factors


  • Nitrogen Dioxide