Effect of inhaled histamine on occlusion pressure and breathing pattern in asthmatic patients

G. Scano, R. Duranti, C. Lo Conte, A. Spinelli, F. Gigliotti, L. Stendardi, L. Emmi, R. Sergysels, P. Arcangeli

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In animals, histamine inhalation is known to increase either respiratory frequency or respiratory drive by stimulation of airway vagal sensitive endings. However, it is not well known whether these changes are concomitant in man. In order to elucidate this point, we carried out the present investigation in thirty-five asthmatic patients who underwent bronchial provocation test by progressively doubling the dose of inhaled histamine. Bronchial reactivity to histamine allowed two populations of patients to be defined: group I with moderate and group II with mild, increased reactivity. In the twenty-three group I patients, neuromuscular inspiratory drive, assessed by mouth occlusion pressure (P0.1), was found to be significantly increased while no significant changes in breathing pattern were noted. In the twelve group II patients histamine did not modify P0.1 or breathing pattern. However, we were able to separate in group I a sub-group of ten patients, as with atopic asthma, in which histamine-induced increase in P0.1 was paralled by rapid and shallow breathing (RSB). Changes in P0.1 and breathing pattern did not depend on baseline airway calibre. In group I, after bronchoconstriction had been reversed by inhaling a β2-agonist bronchodilator agent (fenoterol), P0.1 decreased significantly and RSB was found to be reversed; however, these changes were not interrelated. We concluded that: (i) in asthmatics, histamine-induced increase in P0.1 is not necessarily paralled by, nor related with, change in breathing pattern and (ii) in atopics a 'sensitization' of vagal receptors could account for the concomitance of enhanced P0.1 with RSB.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-180
Number of pages12
JournalClinical Allergy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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