Benzalkonium chloride induced bronchoconstriction in patients with stable bronchial asthma

Korean J Intern Med. 2007 Dec;22(4):244-8. doi: 10.3904/kjim.2007.22.4.244.


Background: Although benzalkonium chloride (BAC)-induced bronchoconstriction occurs in patients with bronchial asthma, BAC-containing nebulizer solutions are still being used in daily practice in Korea. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of inhaled aqueous solutions containing BAC.

Methods: Thirty subjects with bronchial asthma and 10 normal controls inhaled up to three 600 microg nebulized doses of BAC using a jet nebulizer. FEV1 (forced expiratory volume at one second) was measured 15 minutes after each dose. Inhalations were repeated every 20 minutes until FEV1 decreased by 15% or more (defined as BAC-induced bronchoconstriction) or the 3 doses were administered.

Results: The percent fall in FEV1 in response to BAC inhalation was significantly higher in asthmatics than in normal subjects (p < 0.05). BAC administration in subjects with asthma reached a plateau (maximal effect). BAC-induced bronchoconstriction was found in 6 asthmatics (20%), with two responders after the 2nd inhalation and 4 after the 3rd inhalation. The percent fall in FEV1 in response to the 1st inhalation of BAC was significantly higher in asthmatics with higher bronchial hyperresponsiveness (BHR) than in those with lower BHR.

Conclusions: This study suggests that the available multi-dose nebulized solution is generally safe. However, significant bronchoconstriction can occur at a relatively low BAC dose in asthmatics with severe airway responsiveness.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Albuterol / adverse effects
  • Asthma / chemically induced*
  • Asthma / physiopathology
  • Benzalkonium Compounds / adverse effects*
  • Bronchial Provocation Tests
  • Bronchoconstriction*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Detergents / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Forced Expiratory Volume
  • Health Status Indicators
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Spirometry


  • Benzalkonium Compounds
  • Detergents
  • Albuterol