Effects of low dose fluticasone/salmeterol combination on surrogate inflammatory markers in moderate persistent asthma

G P Currie, N J Syme-Grant, L C McFarlane, F A Carey, B J Lipworth
Allergy 2003, 58 (7): 602-7

BACKGROUND: Noninvasive surrogate markers provide valuable information on the asthmatic inflammatory process. We wished to examine the effects of low dose fluticasone/salmeterol combination on different commonly used inflammatory markers in moderate persistent asthma.

METHODS: Twenty-five moderate persistent atopic asthmatics were enrolled of whom 20 completed an open label study. Following an initial 4 week steroid washout period in which patients took salmeterol 50 microg dry powder inhaler 1 puff BD, they received the addition of fluticasone as fluticasone 100 microg/salmeterol 50 microg combination dry powder inhaler 1 puff BD for the next 2 weeks. Exhaled nitric oxide, spirometry, methacholine PD20, sputum/blood eosinophils and sputum/serum eosinophil cationic protein (ECP) were measured following the salmeterol only and fluticasone/salmeterol combination treatment periods.

RESULTS: Compared to salmeterol alone (i.e. after the steroid washout), the use of fluticasone/salmeterol combination conferred significant improvements (P < 0.05) in all surrogate markers of inflammation apart from serum ECP. Geometric mean fold changes were 4.3-fold/1.3-fold for sputum/blood eosinophils, 2.2-fold/1.2-fold for sputum/serum ECP, 2.3-fold for methacholine PD20 and 1.8-fold for exhaled nitric oxide.

CONCLUSIONS: Surrogate markers apart from serum ECP may be used as a guide to evaluate the anti-inflammatory effects of low dose inhaled corticosteroids. Sputum markers tend to be more sensitive than blood when assessing the anti-inflammatory response.

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