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Respiratory Medicine

Bronchial Responsiveness Is Related to Increased Exhaled NO (FENO) in Non-Smokers and Decreased FENO in Smokers
Published: Thursday, April 26, 2012
Author: Andrei Malinovschi et al.

by Andrei Malinovschi, Christer Janson, Marieann Högman, Giovanni Rolla, Kjell Torén, Dan Norbäck, Anna-Carin Olin


Both atopy and smoking are known to be associated with increased bronchial responsiveness. Fraction of nitric oxide (NO) in the exhaled air (FENO), a marker of airways inflammation, is decreased by smoking and increased by atopy. NO has also a physiological bronchodilating and bronchoprotective role.


To investigate how the relation between FENO and bronchial responsiveness is modulated by atopy and smoking habits.


Exhaled NO measurements and methacholine challenge were performed in 468 subjects from the random sample of three European Community Respiratory Health Survey II centers: Turin (Italy), Gothenburg and Uppsala (both Sweden). Atopy status was defined by using specific IgE measurements while smoking status was questionnaire-assessed.

Main Results

Increased bronchial responsiveness was associated with increased FENO levels in non-smokers (p?=?0.02) and decreased FENO levels in current smokers (p?=?0.03). The negative association between bronchial responsiveness and FENO was seen only in the group smoking less <10 cigarettes/day (p?=?0.008). Increased bronchial responsiveness was associated with increased FENO in atopic subjects (p?=?0.04) while no significant association was found in non-atopic participants. The reported interaction between FENO and smoking and atopy, respectively were maintained after adjusting for possible confounders (p-values<0.05).


The present study highlights the interactions of the relationship between FENO and bronchial responsiveness with smoking and atopy, suggesting different mechanisms behind atopy- and smoking-related increases of bronchial responsiveness.