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Occup Med (Lond). 2016 Mar;66(2):95-105. doi: 10.1093/occmed/kqv158. Epub 2015 Nov 20.

Bronchial hyperresponsiveness.

Author information

1
Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Yale School of Public Health, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06510, USA, Department of Internal Medicine (Yale Occupational and Environmental Medicine Program), Yale School of Medicine, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06510, USA. jonathan.borak@yale.edu.
2
Department of Internal Medicine (Yale Occupational and Environmental Medicine Program), Yale School of Medicine, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06510, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Bronchial hyperresponsiveness (BHR) is often regarded as a 'hallmark' of asthma and bronchoprovocation testing is frequently performed to support a diagnosis of asthma. However, BHR is also found in a spectrum of other lung diseases and can be provoked by a variety of specific stimuli.

AIMS:

To review the pathophysiology of BHR, discuss various methods of testing for BHR and describe the epidemiology of BHR in a variety of previously studied populations.

METHODS:

We performed a systematic review of references identified using Medline and hand searches of identified articles. Because of space limitations, we have included those reports that seem most representative of the overall BHR literature.

RESULTS:

BHR can be induced by a variety of stimuli that trigger a number of different but overlapping physiological mechanisms. Bronchoprovocation testing can be performed using a variety of stimuli, various protocols and differing test criteria, yielding results that may be discordant. Elevated rates of BHR have been reported in studies of smokers, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients, atopics, athletes, exposed workers and the general population.

CONCLUSIONS:

Due to the prevalence of BHR in a spectrum of clinical patients and working populations, clinicians should be aware that BHR is not specific for asthma. When performed correctly, the greatest clinical value of BHR testing is to rule out suspected asthma in patients in whom testing is negative. Assessment of BHR also provides insights into the pathological mechanisms of airway disease.

KEYWORDS:

Airway hyperresponsiveness; BHR; asthma; bronchoprovocation; histamine; methacholine; occupational asthma; spirometry.

PMID:
26590957
DOI:
10.1093/occmed/kqv158
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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