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Thursday 01 May 2003

Bronchodilator tolerance: the impact of increasing bronchoconstriction.

By: Wraight JM, Hancox RJ, Herbison GP, Cowan JO, Flannery EM, Taylor DR.

Eur Respir J 2003 May;21(5):810-5

Chronic exposure to beta-agonists causes tolerance to their bronchodilator effects, which is best demonstrated during acute bronchoconstriction. The aim of the present study was to assess whether tolerance becomes more evident with increasing bronchoconstriction, as might occur in acute asthma. In a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study comprising 15 patients, the treatments were salbutamol 400 microg q.i.d. or placebo given via Diskhaler for 28 days with a 2-week washout between treatments. Patients attended on days 14, 21 and 28. Bronchoconstriction was induced on two of these three occasions to achieve a reduction in the forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) of 0 (no methacholine), 15 and 30% (using methacholine) in a randomised order. Immediately after this, salbutamol 100 microg, 100 microg and 200 microg was inhaled at 0, 5, and 10 min. FEV1 was measured over 40 min. Dose/response curves were plotted and values for the area under the curve (AUC)0-40 FEV1 were compared between treatments and by degree of bronchoconstriction. Regular salbutamol resulted in attenuation of the acute response to beta-agonist, which was increasingly evident with greater bronchoconstriction. With a reduction in FEV1 of 0, 15 and 30%, the AUC0-40 FEV1 with salbutamol were 11.2, -14.6 and -35.7% respectively, compared to placebo. There was a linear relationship between the magnitude of bronchoconstriction and the between-treatment differences in AUC0-40 FEV1. Increasing bronchoconstriction conferred greater susceptibility to the effects of bronchodilator tolerance.

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