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Comparison of bronchial responsiveness to histamine in asthma, allergic rhinitis and allergic sensitization at the age of 7 years


Dr Renate Nickel, Department for Pediatric Pneumology and Immunology, Charité– Humboldt University, Augustenburger Platz 1, D-13353 Berlin, Germany. E-mail:


Background Bronchial responsiveness (BR) to histamine or methacholin is a common finding in adult non-asthmatic patients with allergic rhinitis.

Objective We tested whether BR is also present in children with a comparatively short history of allergic rhinitis in a paediatric cohort.

Methods We performed pulmonary function tests and histamine challenges in a total of 654 children (age 7 years, participants of the German Multicenter Allergy Study) and compared PC20 FEV1 values in children with asthma, allergic rhinitis, asymptomatic allergic sensitization and non-atopic controls.

Results Most pronounced BR to histamine was observed in allergic asthmatics (n = 28), irrespective of the presence or absence of allergic rhinitis. Furthermore, PC20FEV1 values in non-asthmatic children with allergic rhinitis (n = 24) were not significantly different from those seen in asymptomatic atopic (n = 54) or non-atopic controls (n = 92).

Conclusions In contrast to adult study populations, 7-year-old non-asthmatic children with allergic rhinitis do not show a higher degree of BR than asymptomatic atopic or non-atopic controls. Therefore, secondary preventive measures in non-asthmatic children with allergic rhinitis (such as regular local anti-inflammatory therapy or specific immunotherapy) should be studied and applied more intensely to prevent bronchial hyper-responsiveness (BHR) and asthma in this high-risk group.