Background: Many children with asthma go into long-term clinical remission at adolescence, but bronchial hyperresponsiveness (BHR) persists in approximately one half of these subjects. BHR is usually assessed by measuring the provocative concentration of methacholine causing a 20% fall in FEV1 (PC20). The percentage fall in FVC at the PC20 (ΔFVC) has been suggested to be a more useful index of disease severity in asthma than PC20.
Study objective: The aim of this study was to determine whether ΔFVC is higher in adolescents with symptomatic asthma than in those with clinical remission.
Patients and methods: Forty adolescents with symptomatic asthma and 80 adolescents with asthma remission underwent methacholine challenge testing. ΔFVC and PC20 were measured on the methacholine dose-response curve.
Results: The mean (95% confidence interval [CI]) ΔFVC (15.5% [95% CI, 14.1 to 16.9%]) in the symptomatic group (n = 40) was significantly higher (p = 0.017) than that (12.8% [95% CI, 11.5 to 14.1%]) in the BHR-positive (PC20 < 16 mg/mL) remission group (n = 44) or that (11.5% [95% CI, 10.2 to 12.8%]) of the BHR-negative remission group (n = 36), with no difference between the two latter groups (p = 0.581). No significant correlation was found between ΔFVC and PC20 in the symptomatic group (r = − 0.156, p = 0.336) or in the whole remission group (r = − 0.187, p = 0.097).
Conclusions: Adolescents with symptomatic asthma had a higher ΔFVC than those with clinical remission, irrespective of the presence of BHR in the latter group. This finding suggests that ΔFVC may serve as an adjunct marker for differentiating between asthma persistence and remission during adolescence.