SUMMARY

  • • Asthma is a chronic disease of the airways, which is characterized by inflammation, variable airflow obstruction, and airway hyperresponsiveness, which is an exaggerated bronchoconstrictor response to physical, chemical, or pharmacologic stimuli.
  • • Airway hyperresponsiveness can be quantified by measuring the degree of bronchoconstriction to inhaled stimuli, using direct and indirect airway challenges.
  • • Direct airway challenges cause bronchoconstriction using agents such as methacholine and histamine, which act directly on receptors located on airway smooth muscle.
  • • Indirect airway challenges cause bronchoconstriction by acting on inflammatory cells or nerves to stimulate the release of mediators that induce smooth muscle contraction.
  • • Bronchoprovocation tests using direct and indirect airway challenges are valuable for testing the effects of asthma therapies on airway hyperresponsiveness.

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