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Respiration. 1996;63(5):304-8.

Magnitude and determinants of short-term tachyphylaxis to methacholine in subjects with symptomatic or asymptomatic airway hyperresponsiveness and in normal controls.

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Unité de recherche, Centre de pneumologie de l'Hôpital Laval, Université Laval, Sainte-Foy, Canada.


Tachyphylaxis to methacholine has been reported in nonasthmatic subjects. In a recent study on the prevalence of airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR) and atopy, we performed duplicate methacholine inhalation tests at a 60-min interval, in subjects with symptomatic asthma (n = 33), asymptomatic AHR (AAHR) (n = 72) and in a group of normal subjects (n = 130); 135/235 subjects were atopic. All subjects had a respiratory questionnaire, allergy skin prick tests, blood eosinophil counts and determination of total serum IgE level. In asthmatic subjects, PC20 just failed to be significantly higher on a second methacholine challenge (p = 0.09); when they were stratified according to severity of AHR and use of inhaled corticosteroids, we observed a significant increase in PC20 on the second test in asthmatic subjects with mild AHR not using corticosteroids (p < 0.01). In normal controls, PC20 methacholine was slightly increased on rechallenge (p < 0.01) as it was in those with AAHR (p < 0.01). There was no relationship between the magnitude of the change in PC20 and age, sex, baseline airway responsiveness, percent fall in FEV1 on the first challenge, atopic score, blood eosinophil counts and serum IgE levels. In conclusion, tachyphylaxis to methacholine is observed in normal or mild asthmatic subjects not using inhaled corticosteroids and in subjects with AAHR; however, in most subjects this change is of a small magnitude.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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