Study objective: To determine the prevalence of positive results for methacholine challenge tests in asymptomatic Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) cadets with no history of asthma. Design: Prospective, blinded cohort comparison study. Setting: Pulmonary diseases clinic in a US Army tertiary-care medical center. Patients: One hundred three college students who were undergoing a physical examination before entering active duty. Group 1 subjects, 58 men and 5 women with an average age of 22.7 years, had no symptoms or personal history of asthma. Group 2 patients, 34 men and 6 women with an average age of 22.2 years, had a history or recent suggestive symptoms of asthma. Interventions: Methacholine challenge testing using concentrations of 0.025, 0.25, 2.5, 10, and 25 mg/mL for a total dose of 188 inhalation units or until FEV1 had declined by 20%. Results: Group 2 had significantly more patients with positive results for methacholine challenge tests or reversible airflow obstruction at baseline (23 of 40 patients [57.5%]) than group 1 (8 of 63 patients [12.7%]; p < 0.05). The cadets in group 1 with positive results for methacholine challenge tests reacted with a 20% decline in FEV1 at the following concentrations: 25 mg/mL (188 IU), 2 patients; 10 mg/mL (64 IU), 4 patients; and 2.5 mg/mL (13.8 IU), 2 patients. Using values calculated for the provocative concentration of a substance causing a 20% fall in FEV1 and the new American Thoracic Society criteria, four patients would have borderline bronchial hyperresponsiveness (4 to 16 mg/mL) and three patients (4.8%) would have mild bronchial hyperresponsiveness (1 to 4 mg/mL). Conclusions: Asymptomatic US Army ROTC cadets with no history of asthma have possible false-positive responses to methacholine at concentrations > 0.25 mg/mL.
- Airway challenge testing
- Airways hyperresponsiveness
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
- Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine