Reversal of Acute β-Blocker Induced Bronchoconstriction

2014-08-27 03:15:50 | BioPortfolio


Current therapies for the management of asthma include inhalers. Types of these medications (beta agonists), improve asthma symptoms by stimulating areas (receptors) within the human airway resulting in dilation of the human airway. Whilst these drugs are highly effectively in the immediate setting their longterm use, constantly stimulation of receptors within the airway has been associated with increased asthma exacerbations and rare cases of death.

Conversely medications that block receptors within the human airway (betablockers)have been avoided in asthma.

The main reason for this is because of the possible acute airway narrowing that can occur after soon after administration. However chronic use of betablockers in asthma has recently been shown to be of benefit in reducing airway inflammation which is of great importance in improving asthma control and reducing symptoms.

Despite this early evidence supporting chronic use of beta blockers in asthma, there is concern in 2 major regards:their potential to cause acute airway narrowing (irrespective of longterm benefit) and the possibility that they could block the reliever action of beta agonists.

The objective of this study is to establish how best to reverse the short term effects of a single dose of beta blocker.

This study is designed as a single centre study, with participants attending the department on approximately 3 separate visits (including a screening visit) at approximately 1 weekly intervals.


Asthma was originally thought to be associated with an intrinsic defect of β2- adrenoceptor function tipping the balance towards parasympathetic bronchoconstriction. While β2-agonists are highly effective for the acute relief of bronchoconstriction, their chronic use is accompanied by an adaptive reduction in β2ADR numbers and associated desensitisation of response, resulting in increased exacerbations and rare cases of death. Conversely the chronic use of β blockers have been shown in murine models to reduce airway inflammation and mucous metaplasia. Recent work in humans has further demonstrated a potential benefit of β blockers in asthmatics by demonstrating a significant improvement in airway hyperresponsiveness to bronchial challenge1.

Despite this early evidence supporting chronic use of β blockers in asthma, there is concern in 2 major regards: their potential to cause acute bronchoconstriction (irrespective of long-term benefit) and the possibility that they could block the reliever action of β-agonists.

Sub-sensitivity of β-adrenoceptors occurs following treatment with long-acting β-agonists. Previous work in our department has shown that high dose steroids can re-establish the β-adrenoceptor function following such down-regulation2. It therefore seems plausible that a similar response may occur following β-blockade (reversing β-blockade and re-establishing β-agonist sensitivity).

We wish to gather evidence for the best methods to treat β-blocked patients in the short term. We therefore wish to examine the effects of acute-β blockade with low dose propranolol on mild-to-moderate asthmatics. We wish to simulate airway stress and rescue in acutely β-blocked patients. For safety purposes we have chosen propranolol due to its short half-life of 3 to 5 hours. Importantly the ability to achieve airway reversibility and recovery following acute β-blockade will influence the long term viability of chronic β blockers use in the management of asthma.

Study Design

Allocation: Randomized, Control: Placebo Control, Endpoint Classification: Safety Study, Intervention Model: Crossover Assignment, Masking: Double Blind (Subject, Investigator), Primary Purpose: Treatment




Hydrocortisone/ Placebo and Propranolol


Asthma and Allergy Research Group, Unviersity of Dundee
United Kingdom




University of Dundee

Results (where available)

View Results


Published on BioPortfolio: 2014-08-27T03:15:50-0400

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Medical and Biotech [MESH] Definitions

A widely used non-cardioselective beta-adrenergic antagonist. Propranolol has been used for MYOCARDIAL INFARCTION; ARRHYTHMIA; ANGINA PECTORIS; HYPERTENSION; HYPERTHYROIDISM; MIGRAINE; PHEOCHROMOCYTOMA; and ANXIETY but adverse effects instigate replacement by newer drugs.

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