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Effect of terbutaline on mucociliary clearance in asthmatic and healthy subjects after inhalation from a pressurised inhaler and a dry powder inhaler.
  1. J Mortensen,
  2. S Groth,
  3. P Lange,
  4. F Hermansen
  1. Department of Clinical Physiology and Nuclear Medicine, Copenhagen, Denmark.


    BACKGROUND: beta Agonists have been shown to increase mucociliary clearance in some studies but not all. Whether the formulation of beta agonists affects mucociliary clearance is not known but may be important as the use of dry powder inhalers increases. METHODS: The effect of different methods of administration of inhaled terbutaline on mucociliary clearance and forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) was assessed in 10 patients with asthma and 10 healthy subjects. Terbutaline (1 mg) was administered through a metered dose inhaler with a spacer (Nebuhaler) or a dry powder inhaler (Turbuhaler), or both treatments were given, in a four way double blind, double dummy trial. Mucociliary clearance was measured by bronchoscintigraphy. RESULTS: Clearance of radioactivity from the lobar bronchi increased in the asthmatic patients by a median of 32% after terbutaline was given by metered dose inhaler and 55% after a combined dose of 2 mg from both inhalers (1 mg from each) compared with placebo but by only 9% after 1 mg of terbutaline was given by a dry powder inhaler. In the healthy subjects mucociliary clearance increased by 51% when terbutaline was given by a dry powder inhaler, by 66% when given by a metered dose inhaler, and by 66% when given by both inhalers combined. The effect of terbutaline on FEV1 was the same with each of the inhalers. CONCLUSION: Despite similar changes in FEV1 with the two formulations terbutaline increased mucociliary clearance significantly in asthmatic and healthy subjects when inhaled from a metered dose inhaler whereas when it was inhaled from a dry powder inhaler its effect was significant only in healthy subjects. The reason for the difference in asthmatic subjects is unclear, but may be associated with differences in the deposition of terbutaline.

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