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How Does Airway Inflammation Modulate Asthmatic Airway Constriction? An Antigen Challenge Study.

A. C. Henderson, E. Ingenito, H. Atileh, E. Israel, B. Suki, K. Lutchen
Published 2003 · Medicine

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During the late-phase (LP) response to inhaled allergen, mediators from neutrophils and eosinophils are released within the airways, resembling what occurs during an asthma attack. We compared the distribution of obstruction and degree of reversibility that follows a deep inspiration (DI) during early-phase (EP) and LP responses in nine asthmatic subjects challenged with allergen. Heterogeneity of constriction was assayed by determining frequency dependence of dynamic lung resistance and elastance, airway caliber by tracking airway resistance during a DI, and airway inflammation by measuring inflammatory cells in induced sputum postchallenge. Despite a paucity of eosinophils in the sputum at baseline (<1% of nonsquamous cells), asthmatic subjects showed a substantial EP response with highly heterogeneous constriction and reduced capacity to maximally dilate airways. The LP was associated with substantial airway inflammation in all subjects. However, five subjects showed only mild LP constriction, whereas four showed more marked LP constriction characterized by heterogeneous constriction similar to EP. Bronchoconstriction during LP was fully alleviated by administration of a bronchodilator. These findings, together with the impaired bronchodilatory response during a DI, indicate a physiological abnormality in asthma at the smooth muscle level and indicate that airway inflammation in asthma is associated with a highly nonuniform pattern of constriction. These data support the hypothesis that variability in responsiveness among asthmatic subjects derives from intrinsic differences in smooth muscle response to inflammation.
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