Certain Asthma Drugs Have Little Effect on Inflammation

Review of long-acting β2-agonist trials shows little effect in chronic asthma

THURSDAY, July 16 (HealthDay News) -- Long-acting β2-agonists (LABA), such as salmeterol or formoterol, do not reduce inflammation in patients with chronic persistent asthma, according to a meta-analysis in the July issue of Chest.

Anees Sindi and colleagues from St. Joseph's Healthcare and McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, identified and performed a meta-analysis of 32 randomized controlled trials investigating the use of LABA compared with placebo, and LABA and inhaled corticosteroids versus inhaled corticosteroids alone. The studies involved a total of 1,105 patients with chronic persistent asthma.

The researchers found that LABA treatment had no effect on sputum, bronchoalveolar lavage fluid, or mucosal inflammatory cells in children or adults; however, it decreased exhaled nitric oxide levels and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid albumin levels in adults, and slightly decreased serum eosinophils and interleukin-4 in children.

"To summarize, this systematic review demonstrates that LABAs do not decrease inflammatory cell numbers in the airways of patients with asthma, and suggests that the clinical synergy between LABAs and inhaled corticosteroids is unlikely to be related to any anti-inflammatory effect of LABAs," Sindi and colleagues conclude.

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