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Respiration. 2011;81(4):311-7. doi: 10.1159/000319566. Epub 2010 Oct 13.

Association of alveolar nitric oxide levels with pulmonary function and its reversibility in stable asthma.

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Department of Respiratory Medicine, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan. hmatsumo @



Inflammation of peripheral airways is implicated in the pathophysiology of severe asthma. However, contributions of peripheral airway inflammation to airway caliber/function in patients with stable asthma, including those with mild to moderate disease, remain to be confirmed.


To determine whether peripheral airway inflammation affects airway function in patients with asthma.


In 70 patients with mild to severe asthma, alveolar nitric oxide [CANO(TMAD)] levels were examined as a noninvasive biomarker of peripheral airway/alveolar inflammation. CANO(TMAD) and maximal nitric oxide (NO) flux in the airway compartment, J'awNO, were estimated with a model that incorporated trumpet-shaped airways and axial diffusion using exhaled NO output at different flow rates. Measures of pulmonary function were then assessed by spirometry and an impulse oscillometry system, and their bronchodilator reversibility was examined.


CANO(TMAD) levels were not correlated with pre- or postbronchodilator spirometric values, but were significantly associated with prebronchodilator reactance at low frequency (Xrs5) (rho = -0.31, p = 0.011), integrated area of low-frequency Xrs (AX) (rho = 0.35, p = 0.003) and negative frequency dependence of resistance (Rrs5-Rrs20) (rho = 0.35, p = 0.004). Furthermore, CANO(TMAD) levels were associated with bronchodilator reversibility of FEV(1), FEF(25-75%), Xrs5 and AX (rho = 0.35, 0.31, -0.24 and -0.31, respectively; p ≤ 0.05 for all). No variables were related to J'awNO.


Elevated CANO(TMAD), but not J'awNO, partly reflects reversible airway obstruction originating in the peripheral airway. These findings indicate the involvement of peripheral airway inflammation in physiological abnormalities in asthma.

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