Evidence of the rapid protective effect of formoterol dry-powder inhalation against exercise-induced bronchospasm in athletes with asthma

Respiration. 2000;67(5):510-3. doi: 10.1159/000067465.


Background: Although formoterol, a new long-acting beta(2)-adrenergic agonist, has a rapid bronchodilating action, no studies have previously examined whether it can provide equally rapid protection against exercise-induced bronchospasm (EIB).

Aim: The aim of the study was to assess the effect of inhaled formoterol against EIB 15 min and 4 h after administration in asthmatic athletes.

Methods: The protective effect of a formoterol (12 microg) dry-powder inhalation was evaluated in 14 EIB-positive asthmatic athletes (13 males, mean age 16.8 years), in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, two-period cross-over study. On each treatment day, the subjects underwent two cycloergometric exercise tests 15 min and 4 h after receiving formoterol or placebo.

Results: Formoterol induced significant bronchodilation in comparison with placebo both 15 min and 4 h after administration (p = 0.007 and p = 0.004); placebo treatment had no effect on EIB, the maximum percent fall in FEV(1) after exercise being 29.3 +/- 14.3% and 22.9 +/- 13. 7% at 15 min and 4 h, respectively. Formoterol offered good protection against EIB in 12 athletes (86%) who experienced a decrease in FEV(1) after exercise <10% both 15 min and 4 h after administration. The mean maximum percent fall in FEV(1) after formoterol was 5.9+/-7.2% at 15 min (p < 0.0001), and 5.8 +/- 6.9% at 4 h (p < 0.0001). There was no statistically significant difference in resting heart rate before and after medication with placebo or formoterol, nor was the heart rate at the end of exercise significantly different on the 2 treatment days. No side effect was observed in either group.

Conclusions: This study demonstrates that formoterol dry powder inhalation is effective in protecting asthmatic athletes as early as 15 min after dosing. Furthermore, the data confirm the long duration of its protective effect and the absence of any significant adverse effects after acute administration.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Adolescent
  • Adrenergic beta-Agonists / administration & dosage
  • Adrenergic beta-Agonists / therapeutic use*
  • Adult
  • Asthma, Exercise-Induced / drug therapy*
  • Child
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Ethanolamines / administration & dosage
  • Ethanolamines / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Forced Expiratory Volume
  • Formoterol Fumarate
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sports
  • Time Factors


  • Adrenergic beta-Agonists
  • Ethanolamines
  • Formoterol Fumarate