Comparison of tremor responses to orally administered albuterol and terbutaline

Am Rev Respir Dis. 1986 Oct;134(4):708-13. doi: 10.1164/arrd.1986.134.4.708.


This study was designed to compare the initial tremor response to 4.0 mg albuterol and 5.0 mg terbutaline orally administered and to study the question of tachyphylaxis by rechallenge after 3 wk of maintenance dosing. Twenty fasting patients with severe COPD in whom orally administered sympathomimetics were withheld for 2 wk were challenged with single doses of each drug in a crossover, randomized fashion 1 wk apart. Then after a further 3 wk of dosing 3 times a day of the second medication (10 patients received each medication), they were challenged once more 16 h after the last dose. Rest and postural tremor were measured at zero and 2 h using an accelerometer affixed to the finger, and measurements of subjective tremor, tremor power spectrum, plasma cyclic AMP and lactate, and forced vital capacity were also made. Postural tremor increased from 25.05 to 36.20 relative units for albuterol, an increase of 11.15 units, and from 24.90 to 57.70 units for terbutaline, an increase of 32.80 units (difference significant at p = 0.01). Plasma cyclic AMP (p less than 0.01) and lactate (p = 0.05) increases were also less for albuterol, and the FEV1 and FVC responses, though about one third less, did not differ significantly. After 3 wk, mean baseline tremor for both drugs was elevated even 16 h after the last 3 times a day dosing (38.00 and 33.10) for albuterol and terbutaline (difference, NS), and responses were much less to the single tablet (3.40 and 9.10, respectively).(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Aged
  • Albuterol / administration & dosage
  • Albuterol / adverse effects*
  • Forced Expiratory Volume
  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / drug therapy
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Posture
  • Random Allocation
  • Research Design
  • Rest
  • Tachyphylaxis
  • Terbutaline / administration & dosage
  • Terbutaline / adverse effects*
  • Time Factors
  • Tremor / chemically induced*
  • Vital Capacity


  • Terbutaline
  • Albuterol