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Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2002 Jan 15;165(2):181-4.

Faster rise of exhaled breath temperature in asthma: a novel marker of airway inflammation?

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Department of Thoracic Medicine, National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College School of Science, Technology and Medicine, London, United Kingdom.


In asthma there is increased vascularity of the airway mucosa, altering heat loss in the airways. We hypothesized that as a result of these inflammatory changes, asthmatic patients would have elevated rates of the exhaled air temperature increase (Deltae degrees T). We measured Deltae degrees T in 18 asthmatic subjects (mean age +/- SEM, 38 +/- 8 yr; 9 male, FEV(1) 74 +/- 10%) and 16 normal volunteers (mean age +/- SEM, 33 +/- 3 yr) and compared it with exhaled nitric oxide (NO) as a marker of inflammation. Deltae degrees T was measured during a flow- and pressure-controlled single exhalation with a fast response (1 ms) thermometer. The end-expiratory plateau temperature was similar in asthmatic compared with normal subjects (35.75 +/- 0.6 degrees C and 34.45 +/- 0.8 degrees C, p > 0.05). However, Deltae degrees T was greater in asthmatic subjects (8.17 +/- 0.83 degrees C/s and 4.12 +/- 0.41 degrees C/s, p < 0.01) and correlated with NO (r = 0.65, p = 0.034). Deltae degrees T was increased in normal subjects (from 4.28 +/- 0.8 degrees C/s to 7.60 +/- 0.5 degrees C/s, p < 0.01) but not in asthmatic patients (from 8.28 +/- 0.41 degrees C/s to 8.80 +/- 0.41 degrees C/s, p > 0.05) after the inhalation of albuterol, indicating that Deltae degrees T may reflect bronchial blood flow. Asthmatic subjects have elevated Deltae degrees T. This may represent a novel, noninvasive means of measuring airway blood flow and inflammation in asthma.

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