Date: 30 May 2013

Exhaled Nitric Oxide in Specific Inhalation Challenge

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Exhaled nitric oxide (eNO) is a biological mediator in human lungs and can be measured easily in exhaled air. Increasing eNO concentrations after specific inhalation testing (SIT) have been described for subjects with occupational asthma. Nevertheless, interpreting eNO concentrations after SIT is still a challenge because eNO concentrations depend on various confounding factors. In this study, 24 women and 43 men with suspected occupational asthma were examined by a questionnaire, physical examination, routine laboratory testing, skin prick testing (atopy: at least one wheal reaction >3 mm), lung function including methacholine testing, and SIT with various occupational allergens. Exhaled NO was measured before SIT (t0), 2 h (t1) and 20–22 h (t2) afterwards (NIOX Flex, Aerocrine, Sweden). At baseline we observed significantly lower eNO concentrations in smokers than in non-smokers and in non-atopics than in atopics (significant only in SIT non-responders). In the SIT non-responders (n = 45), eNO concentrations showed no change after SIT (t0: 16.0, t1: 12.3, t2: 16.0 ppb). In the SIT responders (n = 22), eNO was elevated significantly at t2 (t0: 22.9, t1: 19.9, t2: 42.0 ppb). In addition to positive responder status and measuring time, missing atopy and exposure to isocyanates were the essential factors leading to increased eNO concentrations. We conclude that the measurements of eNO after SIT may provide valuable information concerning the allergenic status of a patient.