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J Appl Physiol (1985). 1997 Feb;82(2):453-9.

Effects of the combination of skin cooling and hyperpnea of frigid air in asthmatic and normal subjects.

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  • 1Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, University Hospitals of Cleveland, Ohio, USA.


To investigate whether reducing integumental temperature influences pulmonary mechanics and interacts with inhaling cold air, 10 normal and 10 asthmatic subjects participated in a three-part trial in which cooling the skin of the head and thorax and isocapnic hyperventilation of frigid air were undertaken as isolated challenges and then administered in combination. Integumental cooling for 30 min caused airway obstruction to develop in both populations [change in 1-s forced expiratory volume (delta FEV1) asthmatic subjects = 10% ; normal subjects = 6%)]. Hyperventilation, however, only affected the asthmatic subjects (delta FEV1 asthmatic subjects = 18%; normal subjects = 3%). In contrast to expectations, the combined challenge did not produce a summation effect (delta FEV1 asthmatic subjects = 21%; normal subjects = 7%). These data demonstrate that the skin of the trunk and head is cold sensitive and when stimulated causes similar degrees of bronchial narrowing in both normal subjects and patients with airway disease independent of any ventilatory effect. They also indicate that cooling of the skin does not add to the obstructive consequences of hyperpnea.

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