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Keywords:

  • bronchial hyper-responsiveness;
  • rhinitis;
  • children;
  • peak expiratory flow;
  • methacholine

An increased prevalence of bronchial hyper-responsiveness (BHR) has been demonstrated in children from a general population, and in non-asthmatic adults with allergic rhinitis. Thus, also children with allergic rhinitis are expected to be at higher risk of BHR. We evaluated the prevalence of BHR in a sample of non-asthmatic children with allergic rhinitis by means of the methacholine (Mch) bronchial challenge, and by monitorizing the airway patency using the daily peak expiratory flow variability (PEFv). Fifty-one children (ranged 6–15 years of age) with allergic rhinitis, ascertained by skin prick test to inhalant allergens, underwent a 14-day peak expiratory flow monitoring, and a Mch bronchial provocation challenge. Thirty healthy children matched for age, and sex served as control group. Thirty-one children in the rhinitis group (61%), and six (20%) in the control group were Mch+ (Mch provocative dose causing a 20% fall of forced expiratory volume in 1 s respect to baseline <2250 μg, equivalent to 11.50 μmol). In rhinitic children the PEFv did not significantly differ between Mch+ and Mch− subjects, but the total serum immunoglobulin E (IgE) were higher among Mch+. The persistent form of rhinitis was significantly associated to Mch positivity. Non-asthmatic children with allergic rhinitis displayed a high prevalence of BHR. The BHR was significantly associated with persistent rhinitis and with higher total IgE levels. Nevertheless, the spontaneous changes in airway patency, as expressed by PEFv, were within normal limits both in Mch+ and Mch− children.