The effect of atropine on allergen-induced increases in bronchial responsiveness to histamine

Am Rev Respir Dis. 1984 Sep;130(3):368-72. doi: 10.1164/arrd.1984.130.3.368.


We examined the role of cholinergic mechanisms in causing the increase in histamine bronchial responsiveness that follows allergen exposure. Five stable adult atopic asthmatics received inhalation tests with histamine on 2 days after both placebo and a dose of atropine sulphate (18 mg nebulized during tidal breathing), which reduced saliva output. On a third day, an allergen inhalation test was carried out to stimulate a dual asthmatic response. When the FEV1 had returned to within 10% of baseline, the histamine test was repeated after placebo and atropine. Before allergen inhalation, atropine marginally increased the FEV1 (p = 0.12) and reduced bronchial responsiveness to histamine (p = 0.003). When allergen challenge had induced an increase in histamine responsiveness (p = 0.001), atropine again marginally increased FEV1 (p = 0.063) and reduced the responsiveness (p = 0.004) but did not return the responsiveness to the preallergen level (p = 0.023). There was no evidence that the magnitude of the atropine blockade of histamine responsiveness was different before and after allergen (p = 0.92). We conclude that cholinergic mechanisms are not likely to explain the increase in bronchial responsiveness that follows allergen-induced inflammation.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aerosols
  • Airway Resistance / drug effects*
  • Allergens / pharmacology*
  • Asthma / physiopathology*
  • Atropine / pharmacology*
  • Bronchi / drug effects
  • Bronchi / innervation
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Forced Expiratory Volume
  • Heart Rate / drug effects
  • Histamine / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parasympathetic Nervous System / drug effects
  • Parasympathetic Nervous System / physiology
  • Salivation / drug effects
  • Time Factors


  • Aerosols
  • Allergens
  • Atropine
  • Histamine