Deposition and pharmacokinetics of flunisolide delivered from pressurized inhalers containing non-CFC and CFC propellants

J Aerosol Med. 2001 Summer;14(2):197-208. doi: 10.1089/08942680152484126.


Our objective was to assess the deposition and pharmacokinetics of a novel formulation of flunisolide (Aerobid, Forest Laboratories) in hydrofluoroalkane (HFA) 134a delivered by pressurized metered dose inhaler (pMDI). The design was a two-way crossover investigation in 12 healthy male subjects comparing HFA-134a flunisolide by pMDI versus pMDI plus 50 mL spacer device. Four of these subjects also took part in a two-way crossover investigation comparing chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) flunisolide pMDI versus pMDI plus Aerochamber holding chamber. The imaging technique of gamma scintigraphy was used to quantify total and regional lung deposition of flunisolide. Plasma levels of flunisolide and its major metabolite (6beta-OH flunisolide) were also determined. The spacer and Aerochamber reduced oropharyngeal deposition dramatically for both the HFA and CFC products (mean 59.8 to 14.9% (p < 0.01) of ex-valve (metered) dose for HFA product; 66.3 to 12.3% (p < 0.01) of ex-valve dose for CFC product) owing to deposition of part of the dose on the walls of the add-on devices themselves. Lung deposition averaged 22.6 and 40.4% (p < 0.01) of the ex-valve dose for the HFA formulation used with pMDI alone and with pMDI plus spacer. Mean lung deposition of the CFC formulation delivered via the Aerochamber (mean 23.4%) was higher than that for the CFC pMDI alone (mean 17.0%), but this difference was not statistically significant. Lung deposition expressed as percentage ex-device (delivered) dose averaged 68.3% for HFA pMDI plus spacer and 19.7% for CFC pMDI. Plasma levels of flunisolide were higher for the pMDI plus spacer than for pMDI alone, reflecting higher lung deposition via the spacer, but plasma levels of the 6beta-OH flunisolide metabolite were higher for the pMDI alone as a consequence of higher oropharyngeal deposition. When delivered via the spacer, pulmonary targeting of the flunisolide HFA formulation was improved compared with the CFC formulation, which should benefit patients by providing satisfactory asthma therapy from a much-reduced delivered dose of flunisolide.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Adult
  • Aerosol Propellants / administration & dosage*
  • Aerosol Propellants / chemistry
  • Aerosol Propellants / pharmacokinetics*
  • Chemistry, Pharmaceutical
  • Chlorofluorocarbons / administration & dosage*
  • Chlorofluorocarbons / blood
  • Chlorofluorocarbons / chemistry
  • Chlorofluorocarbons / pharmacokinetics*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Drug Combinations
  • Drug Monitoring
  • Fluocinolone Acetonide / administration & dosage*
  • Fluocinolone Acetonide / analogs & derivatives*
  • Fluocinolone Acetonide / blood
  • Fluocinolone Acetonide / chemistry
  • Fluocinolone Acetonide / pharmacokinetics*
  • Humans
  • Hydrocarbons, Fluorinated / administration & dosage*
  • Hydrocarbons, Fluorinated / blood
  • Hydrocarbons, Fluorinated / chemistry
  • Hydrocarbons, Fluorinated / pharmacokinetics*
  • Lung / diagnostic imaging*
  • Lung / drug effects*
  • Male
  • Nebulizers and Vaporizers / standards*
  • Oropharynx / diagnostic imaging*
  • Oropharynx / drug effects*
  • Pressure
  • Radionuclide Imaging
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Aerosol Propellants
  • Chlorofluorocarbons
  • Drug Combinations
  • Hydrocarbons, Fluorinated
  • Fluocinolone Acetonide
  • flunisolide
  • apaflurane