Is the increase in bronchial responsiveness or FEV1 shortly after cessation of beta2-agonists reflecting a real deterioration of the disease in allergic asthmatic patients? A comparison between short-acting and long-acting beta2-agonists.Respir Med. 2002 Mar; 96(3):155-62.RM
Regular use of beta2-agonists might result in increased bronchial hyper-responsiveness (BHR) and decreased forced expiratory volume in 1 sec (FEV1). It has been suggested that these possible detrimental effects are not a real deterioration of the disease, but that it might be only a transient (rebound) effect shortly after discontinuing this regular use. Moreover, these effects are thought to occur especially during short-acting and not during long-acting beta2-agonists use. The aim of this study was to invest gate whether a rebound effect (a pharmacological deterioration effect diminishing after several hours) in FEV1 and PC20 (concentration of histamine causing a 20% fall in FEV1 with regard to baseline) occurred after cessation of regular use of beta2-agonists, and whether this occurred both after short-acting and long-acting beta2-agonists. Allergic asthmatic patients (n = 134) were randomly allocated to the use of a short-acting (salbutamol), a long-acting beta2-agonist (formoterol) or placebo for 12 weeks (double-blind, double-dummy). No other asthma medication was allowed, including inhaled corticosteroids. At the start and every 4 weeks later FEV and PC20 were measured, each time at least 12 h after the last doses of study medication, which is in the possible rebound period. To investigate whether a (transient) rebound effect occurred, parameters were additionally measured at least 72 h later after discontinuation of the study medication. After 12 weeks of short-acting beta2-agonist use, a drop was seen in FEV1 from 85.6 (+/- 2.21)% predicted to 78.8 (+/- 2.9)% predicted, measured 15 h (median) after the last doses of medication. This was significantly different compared to placebo. When measured 168 h (median) later FEV1 recovered to 85.5 (+/- 2.4)% predicted, comparable to baseline. PC20 decreased with -1.17 (+/- 0.44) doubling dose after 12 weeks of short-acting beta2-agonist use, measured 15 h after the last doses of medication, which was significantly different compared to placebo. However, 168 h later PC20 recovered slightly with +0.55 (+/- 0.34) doubling dose, but this value was still lower compared to placebo. In contrast, during long-acting beta2-agonist and placebo use no significant changes were seen. In conclusion, the use of short-acting beta2-agonists resulted in a transient (rebound) effect in FEV while the effects on PC20 may point to a real deterioration of the disease. Long-acting beta2-agonist and placebo use showed no changes. We conclude that a mono-therapy of short-acting and not of long-acting beta2-agonists might have deleterious effects in asthma.