Gender difference in airway hyperresponsiveness in smokers with mild COPD. The Lung Health Study

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 1994 Oct;150(4):956-61. doi: 10.1164/ajrccm.150.4.7921469.


Methacholine bronchoprovocation challenge testing was successfully completed in 5,662 participants (3,556 men and 2,106 women) at the time they were randomized into the Lung Health Study, a multicenter trial designed to evaluate early intervention in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). All participants were smokers between the ages of 35 and 60 yr who had mild COPD. The male:female prevalence of a positive challenge (PC20FEV1) was 25%:48% and 63%:87% at a PC20FEV1 of < or = 5 mg/ml (AHR5) and < or = 25 mg/ml (AHR25), respectively. This analysis explores these marked gender differences in airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR). Relative risks (RR) for predictors of AHR and the 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) were estimated using semiparametric Cox proportional-hazards models. The initial model controlled for age, gender, smoking history, height, and weight. The RR (95% CI) for female gender was 1.75 (1.60, 1.92). When the measured baseline FEV1 was added to the model as a surrogate for airway caliber, the RR for female gender decreased to 1.06 (0.96, 1.18). Thus, in this population of middle-aged smokers with mild COPD, the high prevalence of AHR appears to be associated with a decrease in airway caliber. The higher prevalence of AHR noted in women is due to their having a smaller airway caliber than their male counterparts.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bronchial Hyperreactivity / epidemiology*
  • Bronchial Hyperreactivity / physiopathology
  • Bronchial Provocation Tests / methods
  • Bronchial Provocation Tests / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Forced Expiratory Volume
  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / epidemiology
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Methacholine Chloride
  • Middle Aged
  • North America / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sex Characteristics*
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Smoking / physiopathology*
  • Statistics as Topic


  • Methacholine Chloride