Cigarette smoking has been associated with diminished vasodilatory function in the airway circulation. It is possible that cigarette smoking similarly affects the pulmonary circulation before resting pulmonary circulatory abnormalities become manifested. The aim of this study was to compare the acute effect of inhaled albuterol on airway and pulmonary hemodynamic function as an index of β2-adrenoceptor-mediated vasodilation in smokers and never smokers.
In 30 adults, airway and pulmonary vascular function was assessed before and 15 min after albuterol inhalation (270 μg). From mean systemic arterial pressure, cardiac output, airway blood flow, and mean pulmonary arterial pressure, airway vascular resistance (AVR) and pulmonary vascular resistance (PVR) were derived.
Albuterol induced a substantial drop in mean (± SE) PVR (–67.2% ± 5%), with no difference between groups. In contrast, the albuterol-induced decrease in AVR was significantly greater in never smokers than in smokers (–28.6% ± 3% vs –3.1% ± 6%; P < .02).
These results are consistent with a dysfunction in a β2-adrenergic signaling pathway mediating vasorelaxation in the airway circulation of current smokers. The vasodilatory deficit in the airway circulation but not in the pulmonary circulation could be related to local differences in the impact of cigarette smoke on the vascular endothelium.