Methacholine airway responsiveness decreases during exercise in asthmatic subjects

M. D. Inman, R. M. Watson, K. J. Killian, P. M. O'Byrne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In many asthmatic subjects, bronchoconstriction develops 2 to 5 min after exercise, reaches a maximum at approximately 10 min, and declines over the next 60 min. However, bronchodilation is typically observed during and immediately after exercise. We measured the bronchoconstrictor responses to increasing concentrations of inhaled methacholine at rest and during two levels of exercise in seven asthmatic subjects to determine the protection against bronchoconstriction afforded by exercise. On the first day, an incremental Stage 1 exercise test was performed to determine the work capacity (Wcap) of each subject. On the second, third, and fourth days, methacholine was inhaled at rest or during steady-state exercise at one-third or two-thirds of Wcap. The bronchoconstrictor response to methacholine was significantly reduced during exercise (p<0.0001). The concentration of methacholine required to produce a 20% reduction in FEV1 (PC20) increased from 2.80 mg/ml (%SEM, 1.62) at rest to 7.29 μg/ml(%SEM, 1.43) during exercise at one-third WCap, and to 31.03 mg/ml (%SEM, 1.74) during exercise at two-thirds Wcap (p<0.001). This study has demonstrated that there is greater than tenfold protection against bronchoconstriction by methacholine during exercise, and the magnitude of the protection depends on the intensity of exercise performed. The mechanism of this protection is not known, but may have clinical utility.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1414-1417
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican Review of Respiratory Disease
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1990


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