BACKGROUND: Intravenous infusion of atrial natriuretic peptide has been shown to cause bronchodilatation in patients with asthma and endogenous atrial natriuretic peptide is known to rise with exercise. Whether an aberration in release of atrial natriuretic peptide is concerned in the pathogenesis of exercise induced bronchoconstriction has not been studied. METHODS: The atrial natriuretic peptide response to exercise was studied in eight men with exercise induced asthma and eight age matched non-asthmatic men. Subjects exercised to exhaustion on a treadmill, using the Bruce protocol. Atrial natriuretic peptide and catecholamines were measured at the end of each stage of exercise and oxygen consumption and heart rate were monitored throughout. RESULTS: Both groups showed a 3.5 fold increase in plasma atrial natriuretic peptide during exercise (mean (SE): normal subjects 25 (4) pmol/l; asthmatic subjects 24 (5) pmol/l), with no difference between the two groups. There was a close correlation between plasma atrial natriuretic peptide concentrations and oxygen uptake, catecholamine release, and heart rate in both groups. The catecholamine response was similar in the asthmatic and normal subjects, both groups showing a four fold rise in plasma adrenaline and a 4-5 fold rise in plasma noradrenaline. CONCLUSION: A defect in the release of circulating atrial natriuretic peptide does not account for exercise induced asthma; the concentrations of the circulating peptide that were achieved may effect a small reduction in airway reactivity. Our data do not support the idea that asthmatic patients have abnormal sympathoadrenal activity.
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