The dose-response relationships of the anticholinergic bronchodilator drug ipratropium bromide were studied. Cumulative doses totalling 288 micrograms ipratropium were given by inhalation of a liquid aerosol from a Wright nebuliser to each of 10 patients with stable, moderately severe airflow obstruction. Up to 80% of the maximum achievable bronchodilator response, as assessed by a rise in the patients' mean forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1), was obtained with a cumulative total dose of 72 micrograms; with additional doses beyond 72 micrograms there was no significant further improvement. In the same patients the effects of administration of cumulative doses of ipratropium to a total of 72 micrograms from a Wright nebuliser were compared with those achieved with a metered-dose inhaler. Bronchodilatation was assessed by measurement of peak expiratory flow rate, FEV1, forced vital capacity, thoracic gas volume and specific airways conductance (sGaw). No significant difference was observed in the response at any dose level between the wet and the dry aerosols. By fitting a curve to the mean values of FEV1 and sGaw an estimate was made of the dose of ipratropium bromide required to produce 99% of the achievable bronchodilator response. For FEV1 this dose was 78 micrograms when ipratropium was inhaled as a nebulised solution from the Wright nebuliser and 82 micrograms when it was inhaled from the metered-dose inhaler; for sGaw the respective values were 54 and 58 micrograms. In these patients with stable airflow obstruction there was no therapeutic advantage in the use of ipratropium bromide as a wet aerosol.
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