While airways have some degree of baseline tone, the level and variability of this tone is not known. It is also unclear whether there is a difference in airway tone or in the variability of airway tone between asthmatic and healthy individuals. This study examined airway tone and intraindividual airway tone heterogeneity (variance of airway tone) in vivo in 19 individuals with asthma compared with 9 healthy adults. All participants underwent spirometry, body plethysmography, and high-resolution computed tomography at baseline and after maximum bronchodilation with albuterol. Airway tone was defined as the percent difference in airway diameter after albuterol at total lung capacity compared with baseline. The amount of airway tone in each airway varied both within and between subjects. The average airway tone did not differ significantly between the two groups (P 0.09), but the intraindividual airway tone heterogeneity did (P 0.016). Intraindividual airway tone heterogeneity was strongly correlated with airway tone (r 0.78, P<0.0001). Also, it was negatively correlated with the magnitude of the distension of the airways from functional residual capacity to total lung capacity at both baseline (r 0.49, P 0.03) and after maximum bronchodilation (r0.51, P 0.02) in the asthma, but not the healthy group. However, we did not find any relationship between intraindividual airway tone heterogeneity and conventional lung function outcomes. Intraindividual airway tone heterogeneity appears to be an important characteristic of airway pathophysiology in asthma.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physiology (medical)