Studies were performed to investigate whether hyperresponsiveness of the airways could be induced in normal subjects by inhalation of prostaglandin E2 (PGE2). During the initial bronchodilator phase of PGE2 action the bronchoconstrictor effect of inhaled histamine was significantly antagonised. When bronchoconstrictor challenges were started shortly after the end of the bronchodilator response to PGE2, however, significant enhancement of the effects of both inhaled histamine and methacholine occurred. It was predominantly sensitivity to these agents that was increased, with a parallel shift of the dose-response curves towards increased bronchoconstriction. Thus PGE2 may be protective in the acute phase of a bronchoconstrictor challenge, but in a chronic inflammatory condition its net effect may be a balance between this beneficial action and a non-specific potentiation of the activity of bronchoconstrictor agents.
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