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Clin Infect Dis. 2001 Nov 1;33(9):1483-8. Epub 2001 Oct 4.

Variant effect of first- and second-generation antihistamines as clues to their mechanism of action on the sneeze reflex in the common cold.

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  • 1Aachen Medical School, Aachen, Germany.


Treatment with first-generation antihistamines reduces sneezing, rhinorrhea, nasal mucus weight, and, in some instances, cough in subjects with experimental or natural colds; however, treatment with second-generation antihistamines has not been effective for these complaints in trials in subjects with natural colds. This article reports the negative results of a clinical trial with loratadine, a second-generation antihistamine, in adults in the rhinovirus challenge model. This finding in the highly controlled setting of the challenge model confirms the earlier negative studies with second-generation antihistamines in natural colds. First-generation antihistamines block both histaminic and muscarinic receptors as well as passing the blood-brain barrier. Second-generation antihistamines mainly block histaminic receptors and do not pass the blood-brain barrier. The effectiveness of first-generation antihistamines in blocking sneezing in colds may be due primarily to neuropharmacological manipulation of histaminic and muscarinic receptors in the medulla.

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