Mechanisms for isolated volume response to a bronchodilator in patients with COPD

Isa Cerveri, Riccardo Pellegrino, Roberto Dore, Angelo Corsico, Paola Fulgoni, Karel P. Van De Woestijne, Vito Brusasco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We hypothesized that an altered effect of lung inflation on airway caliber may in part explain the isolated volume response to bronchodilators, i.e., an increase of forced vital capacity (FVC) without change in 1-s forced expiratory volume (FEV1). Small-airway caliber was measured by high- resolution computed tomography at functional residual capacity and total lung capacity in five chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients with an isolated increase of FVC (FVC responders) and five with an increase of both FVC and FEV1 (FVC-FEV1 responders) after inhalation of salbutamol. In FVC- FEV1 responders, the airway diameter increased with the cube root of increase in lung volume but was unchanged or even decreased in four of five FVC responders, FVC responders had more severe emphysema, as inferred from lung function and imaging studies, than FVC-FEV1 responders. We speculate that longitudinal traction or space competition (Verbeken EK, Cauberghs M, and Van de Woestijne KP, J Appl Physiol 81: 2468-2480, 1996) are possible underlying mechanisms. We conclude that the isolated volume response to bronchodilators is associated with severe emphysema and likely results from an altered effect of lung inflation on airway caliber.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1989-1995
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2000


  • 1-s forced expiratory volume
  • Airway reversibility
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Forced vital capacity
  • High-resolution computed tomography
  • Pulmonary emphysema

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Endocrinology
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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