Effect of Regular Inhaled Albuterol on Allergen-induced Late Responses and Sputum Eosinophils in Asthmatic Subjects
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Treatment with inhaled beta(2)-agonists immediately before allergen inhalation inhibits allergen-induced early, but not late asthmatic responses (LAR). By contrast, 2 wk treatment with inhaled albuterol increases airway responses to inhaled allergen. We examined the effects of regular albuterol treatment on allergen-induced increases in inflammatory cells in blood and induced sputum. Ten mild, stable allergic asthmatics inhaled albuterol (800 micrograms/day) or placebo for 7 d in a controlled, randomized, double-blind, crossover study. Allergen inhalation was performed 12 h after the final dose. Methacholine airway responsiveness and blood samples were analyzed before and 24 h after, and induced sputum was obtained before, 7 h and 24 h after allergen. Allergen significantly reduced methacholine PC20, increased blood eosinophil numbers, and numbers of sputum neutrophils, EG2 positive and metachromatic cells (p < 0.05), without significant differences between treatments. Albuterol treatment significantly increased the LAR compared to placebo treatment (p = 0.003) and significantly enhanced the number of sputum eosinophils (p = 0.009) and sputum ECP (p = 0.04) at 7 h but not 24 h post-allergen (p > 0.05). We conclude that regular use of inhaled albuterol significantly increases the LAR to inhaled allergen, in association with an increase in the number of sputum eosinophils and the release of ECP, suggesting albuterol increases the late response by increasing eosinophil influx into the airways.