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J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1999 May;103(5 Pt 1):816-22.

In vivo effect of albuterol on methacholine-contracted bronchi in conjunction with salmeterol and formoterol.

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Department of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics and the Department of Respiratory Medicine, Ninewells Hospital and Medical School, University of Dundee, Scotland, UK.



It has been shown in vitro that prior treatment with salmeterol and formoterol antagonizes the relaxant effect of albuterol in carbachol-contracted human bronchi.


The primary aim of this study was to evaluate whether there is a potential in vivo interaction between long- and short-acting beta2-agonists in the presence of increased airway tone induced by methacholine. In addition, a post hoc analysis was made to evaluate the effects of beta2-adrenoceptor polymorphisms.


Sixteen asthmatic subjects (mean age [+/-SD], 39 [13] years; FEV1, 81% [17%] of predicted value), all taking inhaled corticosteroids and having methacholine PD20 values of less than 500 micrograms, were randomized in double-blind, double-dummy, cross-over fashion to receive single doses of inhaled placebo, inhaled formoterol 12 micrograms, or inhaled salmeterol 50 micrograms followed 12 hours later by a single dose of inhaled albuterol 400 micrograms (low dose) or 1600 micrograms (high dose). Methacholine challenges were performed on each of 6 separate occasions 1 hour after albuterol.


There was a greater numerical difference in geometric mean PD20 values between low- and high-dose albuterol after placebo dosing (671 micrograms vs 1080 micrograms, a 1.61-fold difference; P <.05) compared with low- and high-dose albuterol after formoterol dosing (660 micrograms vs 799 micrograms, a 1. 21-fold difference; P =.4), or after salmeterol dosing (568 micrograms vs 847 micrograms, a 1.49-fold difference; P =.055). PD20 values with high-dose albuterol in combination with formoterol or salmeterol were numerically lower than those found with high-dose albuterol in combination with placebo, but they were not significantly different. There was a significant difference between PD20 values with low-dose albuterol after dosing with formoterol (PD20 = 660 micrograms, a 1. 6-fold difference; P <.05) or with salmeterol (PD20 = 568 micrograms, a 1.9-fold difference; P <.05) compared with PD20 with high-dose albuterol after placebo dosing (PD20 = 1080 micrograms). Post hoc polymorphism analysis for pooled pretreatment with formoterol and salmeterol (excluding placebo pretreatment) showed significantly (P <.05) lower PD20 values with homozygous glycine-16 compared with heterozygous glycine/arginine-16 and significantly (P <.05) lower PD20 values with homozygous glutamate-27 compared with either heterozygous glutamate/glutamine-27 or homozygous glutamine-27.


Compared with placebo, both salmeterol and formoterol caused a significant degree of antagonism of albuterol-induced bronchorelaxation in methacholine-contracted bronchi in vivo. This interaction could be caused by prolonged occupancy of airway beta2-adrenoceptors by long-acting beta2-agonists or by early tachyphylaxis 12 hours after a single-dose exposure. The degree of albuterol protection was also related to beta2-adrenoceptor polymorphism.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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