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Allergy. 1997;52(36 Suppl):33-40.

The pharmacological basis for the treatment of perennial allergic rhinitis and non-allergic rhinitis with topical corticosteroids.

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Allergy and Asthma Medical Group and Research Center, San Diego, CA 92123 USA.


The currently available respiratory topical corticosteroids are all effective at reducing the nasal symptoms of itch, sneezing, rhinorrhoea and obstruction associated with allergic rhinitis. The mechanism of action of corticosteroids is related to their anti-inflammatory activities. They have been documented to prevent fluid exudation and reduce the number of circulating inflammatory cells, including lymphocytes, mast cells, basophils, eosinophils, macrophages, and neutrophils. This occurs through multiple mechanisms, e.g. eosinophil infiltration is suppressed by preventing cytokine production, reducing local mechanisms of tissue infiltration, and decreasing eosinophil survival. Furthermore, corticosteroids also reduce preformed and newly-generated mediators (e.g. histamine, tryptase, prostanoids, leukotrienes), and inhibit production of cytokines and chemokines by inflammatory cells (e.g. IL-1 through IL-6, IL-8, RANTES, TNF-alpha, IFN-gamma and GM-CSF). The currently available corticosteroids differ pharmacologically. Fluticasone propionate appears to have the greatest affinity for the glucocorticoid receptor, and binds more quickly and dissociates more slowly from the receptor compared with other corticosteroids, suggesting a more prolonged duration of action. Its increased specificity for respiratory tissue may lead to greater potency with less potential for systemic adverse effects. Fluticasone propionate has been compared with other corticosteroids in animal models for relative topical and systemic potency, and according to these data, it has the most favourable risk-benefit ratio.

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