Background: Airway inflammation in asthma involves both large and small airways, and the combination of inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) and long acting beta-2 agonists (LABA) is the mainstay of therapy. Available inhaled combinations differ in terms of drug delivery to the lung and the ability to reach small airways.
Aim: To evaluate whether treatment with an extra-fine inhaled combination provides additional effects vs a nonextra-fine combination on airway function.
Methods: After a 1- to 4-week run-in period, patients with asthma were randomized to a double blind, double dummy, 12-week treatment with either extra-fine beclomethasone/formoterol (BDP/F) 400/24 microg daily or fluticasone propionate/salmeterol (FP/S) 500/100 microg daily. Methacholine (Mch) bronchoprovocation challenge and single breath nitrogen (sbN2) test were performed.
Results: Thirty patients with asthma (15 men), mean age 43, mean forced expiratory volume in the first second (FEV(1)) 71.4% of predicted, were included. A significant increase (P < 0.01) versus baseline was observed in predose FEV(1) in both BDP/F and FP/S groups (0.37 +/- 0.13 l and 0.36 +/- 0.12 l, respectively). PD(20)FEV(1) Mch improved significantly from 90.42 (+/-30.08) microg to 432.41 (+/-122.71) microg in the BDP/F group (P = 0.01) but not in the FP/S group. A trend toward improvement vs baseline was observed for BDP/F in closing capacity (CC), whereas no differences were recorded in other sbN(2) test parameters.
Conclusion: The findings of this pilot study suggest that an extra-fine inhaled combination for the treatment of asthma has beneficial effects on both large and small airways function as expressed by Mch and sbN(2) tests.