Cumulative inhalation dose-response curves for the response to prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) have been constructed in normal subjects and patients with mild, stable asthma. In normal subjects cumulative inhalation dose-response curves were also constructed for salbutamol. In normal subjects dose-related bronchodilatation occurred in response to both PGE2 and salbutamol, although both the within-subject and the between-subject variation was significantly greater with salbutamol. Most asthmatic subjects gave a biphasic response to PGE2 on at least one occasion, PGE2 being a bronchoconstrictor above a certain level of specific airways conductance (sGaw) and a bronchodilator below. Chronic treatment with inhaled salbutamol (400 micrograms four times a day) had no effect on the normal subjects' response to salbutamol but there was a significant shift of the PGE2 dose-response curve to the left, indicating increased bronchodilatation (p less than 0.02). Stabilisation of the asthmatics' dose-response curve in the direction of bronchodilatation also occurred and was more pronounced (p less than 0.005). In the normal subjects PGE2 may be concerned in the control of airway smooth-muscle tone and in limiting bronchoconstriction induced by mediators such as histamine, and chronic salbutamol treatment may be important in enhancing these effects of PGE2. 80 mg oral propranolol given one and a half hours before had no effect on PGE2-induced bronchodilatation; but the question whether chronic treatment with beta-blockers has any effect needs investigation.
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