Effect of brief exercise on airway blood flow in subjects with and without asthma

Eliana S. Mendes, Louis Lit, Gabor Horvath, Patricia Rebolledo, Adam Wanner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Exercise-related hyperventilation is associated with cooling and drying of the airway mucosa. A compensatory increase in the blood perfusion of the airway (Qaw) theoretically could counteract this effect. Subjects with asthma have been shown to have a blunted endothelium-dependent vasodilation in their airway, and this could attenuate their Qaw response to exercise. We measured the Qaw response to a 5-min exercise challenge in 15 subjects with mild asthma and 10 controls. Baseline mean(±SE) Qaw was 39.6±3.5 μl.min-1.ml-1 in asthmatics and 37.7±4.1 μl.min-1.ml-1 in controls (P=NS), but asthmatics had a blunted vasodilator response to inhaled albuterol (consistent with endothelial dysfunction). Mean Qaw increased significantly in both groups after exercise, reaching a peak of 48±14% at 15 min in asthmatics and 35±10% at 60 min in controls, respectively (P=NS between the groups). In the asthmatics, mean Qaw returned to baseline level by 30 min, whereas in the non-asthmatics, mean Qaw remained high through the 90 min measurement point. Since mean arterial pressure, the driving pressure for Qaw, did not change after exercise in either group, the increase in Qaw reflected local vasodilation in the airway. Thus, brief exercise led to a transient increase in the blood perfusion of the airway without a difference between asthmatics and controls, despite the presence of a blunted endotheliumdependent vasodilation in asthmatics. This suggests that the exerciserelated increase in Qaw was not endothelium dependent.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10-17
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Exercise Physiology Online
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2012


  • Airway blood flow
  • Asthma
  • Exercise

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology (medical)


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