• horse;
  • pulmonary function;
  • histamine induced bronchoconstriction


The effect of inhaled nitric oxide on pulmonary mechanics was studied in normal standing horses with histamine-induced bronchoconstriction. The respiratory health status of 6 normal horses was established on the basis of history, clinical and bronchoalveolar lavage examination. Intrathoracic pressures were estimated using distal oesophageal pressures. Respiratory gas flows were measured using a heated pneumotachograph. Pulmonary mechanics variables were determined from these measurements on a breath by breath basis. Bronchoconstriction was induced by nebulising a 0.75% w/v solution of histamine over 5 min. Pulmonary function was assessed during 4 periods: 1) while breathing room air prior to histamine challenge; 2) 5 min post histamine challenge; 3) 10 min post histamine challenge and while breathing 5 ppm nitric oxide; and 4) 14 min post histamine challenge while breathing room air. Statistical analysis included Friedman's nonparametric repeated measures analysis of variance followed by Dunn's multiple comparisons tests, where appropriate.

Criteria for demonstration of nitric oxide effect on pulmonary mechanics variables were taken as a return of the variable value following nitric oxide administration towards control value and subsequent restoration of the value toward post histamine levels with discontinuation of nitric oxide. Five variables (dynamic compliance, airway resistance, maximum developed pressure, work of breathing, and peak expiratory flow) had significant changes in response to histamine. Three variables (dynamic compliance, airway resistance, and maximum developed pressure) met the above criteria, but only dynamic compliance and airway resistance showed statistical significance (P<.05). These results suggest that nitric oxide partly dilates small airways constricted by histamine.