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Allergy Asthma Proc. 2011 Nov-Dec;32(6):29-34. doi: 10.2500/aap.2011.32.3477.

Effects on small airway obstruction of long-term treatments with beclomethasone/formoterol hydrofluoroalkane (metered-dose inhaler) versus fluticasone/salmeterol (dry-powder inhaler) in asthma: a preliminary study.

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  • 1Prima Divisione di Medicina Interna, Spedali Civili, Brescia, Italy.


New formulations of extrafine particles of long-acting beta-2 agonists plus inhaled corticosteroids (LABA + ICS) have been shown to reach peripheral regions of the lung. The aim of the study was to assess the effect on small airway obstruction of long-term treatments with two different LABA + ICS formulations in asthma. Ten subjects with moderate persistent asthma were enrolled. After a 4-week washout period they were treated in a randomized crossover design for 24 weeks with formoterol, 12 micrograms, and beclomethasone, 200 micrograms, hydrofluoroalkane (HFA; by metered-dose inhaler) b.i.d. (FB) or salmeterol, 50 micrograms, and fluticasone, 250 micrograms (by dry-powder inhaler), b.i.d. (SF). At baseline and at the end of each period subjects underwent an Asthma Control Test (ACT) and Pulmonary Function Testing. The N(2) phase III slope and closing volume (CV) during single-breath washout test and difference between the maximal expiratory flow rates with air and heliox at isovolume corresponding to 50% [Delta(heliox-air)MEF(50%)] were measured to assess changes on peripheral airways function. Two subjects dropped out and eight completed the study. After SF and FB, forced expiratory volume at 1 second (FEV(1); p < 0.01) and FEV(1)/forced vital capacity (FVC; p < 0.01 for SF and p < 0.05 for FB) increased when compared with baseline. Although both FB and SF treatments slightly increased delta(heliox-air)MEF(50% isovolume) versus baseline, only after FB the N(2) phase III slope and CV decreased from 1.61 ± 0.61%/L to 1.35 ± 0.49 N(2)%/L (p = 0.054) and from 0.98 ± 0.56 L to 0.88 ± 0.58 L (p < 0.05), respectively. ACT score raised from 19 ± 5 (baseline) to 23 ± 1 after FB (p < 0.02) and 23 ± 2 after SF (p < 0.05). When compared with baseline and in contrast to SF (50/250 micrograms b.i.d.), FB HFA (12/200 micrograms b.i.d.) significantly improved functional parameters reflecting small airway obstruction in asthmatic patients. Registered in the public trial registry at identifier: NCT01255579.

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