The present study presents preliminary findings on how structural/functional abnormalities of the airway wall relate to excessive airway narrowing and reduced bronchodilatory response to deep inspiration (DI) in subjects with a history of asthma. Bronchial segments were acquired from subjects undergoing surgery, mostly to remove pulmonary neoplasms. Subjects reported prior doctor-diagnosed asthma (n = 5) or had no history of asthma (n = 8). In vitro airway narrowing in response to acetylcholine was assessed to determine maximal bronchoconstriction and sensitivity, under static conditions and during simulated tidal and DI maneuvers. Fixed airway segments were sectioned for measurement of airway wall dimensions, particularly the airway smooth muscle (ASM) layer. Airways from subjects with a history of asthma had increased ASM (P = 0.014), greater maximal airway narrowing under static conditions (P = 0.003), but no change in sensitivity. Maximal airway narrowing was positively correlated with the area of the ASM layer (r = 0.58, P = 0.039). In tidally oscillating airways, DI produced bronchodilation in airways from the control group (P = 0.0001) and the group with a history of asthma (P = 0.001). While bronchodilation to DI was reduced with increased airway narrowing (P = 0.02; r = −0.64)), when the level of airway narrowing was matched, there was no difference in magnitude of bronchodilation to DI between groups. Results suggest that greater ASM mass in asthma contributes to exaggerated airway narrowing in vivo. In comparison, the airway wall in asthma may have a normal response to mechanical stretch during DI. We propose that increased maximal airway narrowing and the reduced bronchodilatory response to DI in asthma are independent.
Noble, P., Jones, R., Cairncross, A., Elliot, J., Mitchell, H., James, A., & McFawn, P. (2013). Airway narrowing and bronchodilation to deep inspiration in bronchial segments from subjects with and without reported asthma. Journal of Applied Physiology, 114(10), 1460-1471. https://doi.org/10.1152/japplphysiol.01489.2012