Standardization of inhalation provocation tests: influence of nebulizer output, particle size, and method of inhalation

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1981 Feb;67(2):156-61. doi: 10.1016/0091-6749(81)90012-9.


Standardization of inhalation tests requires a knowledge of factors that will affect the response. We measured the output and particle size of six types of nebulizers used for inhalation tests. Output varied considerably between nebulizers of different types (0.12 to 1.59 ml/min) and to a lesser extent between nebulizers of the same type. Particle size varied between 0.8 and 5.2 micrometer aerodynamic mass median diameter (AMMD). The influence of these two properties on bronchial response to inhaled methacholine was examined. Nebulizer output but not particle size (between 1.3 and 3.6 micrometer AMMD) altered the response. We also examined the effect of change in inspiratory time during inhalation from residual volume to total lung capacity on lung deposition of radiolabeled aerosol and on the provocative concentration of histamine required to reduce the 1-sec forced expiratory volume (FEV1) by 20% (PC20). A reduction in inspiratory time from 8 to 2 sec resulted in a lower total lung dose, relatively more aerosol deposited in central airways, and a higher PC20. The results emphasize the importance of keeping nebulizer output and pattern of breathing constant when performing inhalation provocation tests if consistent results are to be obtained.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aerosols
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Histamine / administration & dosage
  • Humans
  • Methacholine Compounds / administration & dosage
  • Nasal Provocation Tests / methods*
  • Particle Size


  • Aerosols
  • Methacholine Compounds
  • Histamine