Ventilation distribution during histamine provocation

J Appl Physiol (1985). 1997 Dec;83(6):1907-16. doi: 10.1152/jappl.1997.83.6.1907.


We investigated ventilation inhomogeneity during provocation with inhaled histamine in 20 asymptomatic nonsmoking subjects. We used N2 multiple-breath washout (MBW) to derive parameters Scond and Sacin as a measurement of ventilation inhomogeneity in conductive and acinar zones of the lungs, respectively. A 20% decrease of forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1) was used to distinguish responders from nonresponders. In the responder group, average FEV1 decreased by 26%, whereas Scond increased by 390% with no significant change in Sacin. In the nonresponder group, FEV1 decreased by 11%, whereas Scond increased by 198% with no significant Sacin change. Despite the absence of change in Sacin during provocation, baseline Sacin was significantly larger in the responder vs. the nonresponder group. The main findings of our study are that during provocation large ventilation inhomogeneities occur, that the small airways affected by the provocation process are situated proximal to the acinar zone where the diffusion front stands, and that, in addition to overall decrease in airway caliber, there is inhomogeneous narrowing of parallel airways.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Airway Resistance / drug effects
  • Bronchial Provocation Tests*
  • Bronchoconstrictor Agents / pharmacology
  • Diffusion
  • Forced Expiratory Volume / drug effects
  • Gamma Cameras
  • Histamine / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Nitrogen
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Respiratory Mechanics / drug effects*


  • Bronchoconstrictor Agents
  • Histamine
  • Nitrogen