Airway hyperresponsiveness: An overview

Giovanni Barisione, E. Crimi, V. Brusasco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Because the airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR) is deemed to be a universal feature of asthma, its absence has been considered clinically useful in excluding it. The level of AHR may vary with time so that some individuals have AHR only episodically while other persistently exhibit this abnormality. In humans, AHR to bronchoconstrictor agents is modulated by a complex array of factors some facilitating and others blunting airway narrowing. This review begins with a description of direct and indirect stimuli causing airway smooth muscle to contract and the airway to narrow. It then focuses on the complex mechanisms of airway smooth muscle activation, force-velocity generation, loads, and airway geometry. Finally, in light of the evidence that external modulation of airway smooth muscle tone and airway narrowing is at least as important as the inflammatory mediators in the pathogenesis of AHR, the practical issues for performance and clinical interpretation of bronchial challenges are discussed in detail.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-133
Number of pages7
JournalItalian Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2009


  • Airway inflammation
  • Airway remodelling
  • Airway smooth muscle
  • Contractility
  • Deep inhalation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy


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