Return to Contents in this Issue

Original Article


Bronchial hyperresponsiveness is a common feature in patients with chronic urticaria


R. Asero, E. Madonini1

1 S. C. Pneumologia, A.O. Niguarda Cà Granda, Milano, Italy
Ambulatorio di Allergologia, Clinica San Carlo, Paderno Dugnano (MI), Italy

J Investig Allergol Clin Immunol 2006; Vol. 16(1): 19-23



Background: Chronic urticaria (CU) is a skin disorder characterized by long-lasting release of histamine, and sometimes leukotrienes, from both mast cells and basophils. Although both these substances are potent inductors of contraction of airway smooth muscle, pulmonary function and airway hyperresponsiveness have not been
systematically investigated in patients with CU.

Objective: To assess pulmonary function and airway hyperresponsiveness in patients with CU.

Methods: Twenty-six clinically well-characterized adult patients with CU (M/F 8/18; mean age 47 years) underwent pulmonary function tests and methacholine provocation during a phase of moderate activity of their disease. Twenty-six adult asthmatic patients submitted to methacholine provocation were used as controls.

Results: Two patients (8%) had overt asthma on baseline pulmonary function tests. Twenty (77%) patients with a normal baseline pulmonary function showed significant bronchial hyperresponsiveness on methacholine provocation. Altogether, 22/26 (85%) patients had asthma or abnormal bronchial reactivity. Airway hyperresponsiveness was not associated with gender, disease duration, intolerance to NSAID, positive autologous
serum skin test or respiratory allergy. On average, asthmatic controls showed a much severer airway hyperresponsiveness than urticaria patients (p< 0.01).

Conclusion: Patients with CU frequently show bronchial hyperresponsiveness. Prospective studies are needed to assess whether they are at risk for bronchial asthma.

Key words: Chronic urticaria, asthma, airway hyperresponsiveness, methacholine, histamine.