Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Asthma is characterized by excessive airway narrowing and airway wall inflammation. In cases of fatal asthma, increased thickness of the airway wall is observed and may account for excessive airway narrowing when smooth muscle contracts. This study was undertaken to examine airway dimensions in large and small airways in both fatal and nonfatal cases of asthma. Airway wall areas (total, inner, and outer relative to smooth muscle layer), epithelial integrity, smooth muscle shortening, and the areas of smooth muscle, cartilage, and mucous glands were compared in transverse sections of large and small airways of subjects dying of asthma (fatal asthma, n = 11), those dying suddenly of nonrespiratory diseases and having a definite history of asthma (nonfatal asthma, n = 13), and those dying suddenly without any history of respiratory illness (control, n = 11). Airways were grouped by size using the basement membrane perimeter for comparison. All areas were expressed as areas per millimeter of basement membrane. In cartilaginous airways, the cases of fatal asthma had greater (p < 0.05) total wall, inner wall, outer wall, smooth muscle, mucous gland and cartilage areas than did control and nonfatal cases. The inner wall area was greater in the fatal and nonfatal cases than in the control cases (p < 0.05) in the small cartilaginous airways and membranous bronchioles (MB). In small MB (perimeter < 2 mm), the total and outer wall areas were greater (p < 0.05) in cases of fatal and nonfatal asthma than in control cases.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Original publication




Journal article


Am Rev Respir Dis

Publication Date





405 - 410


Adolescent, Adult, Aged, Analysis of Variance, Asthma, Bronchi, Death, Sudden, Female, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Western Australia