Dose-response curve to salbutamol during acute and chronic treatment with formoterol in COPD

Giuseppe Emanuele La Piana, Luciano Corda, Enrica Bertella, Luigi Taranto Montemurro, Laura Pini, Claudio Tantucci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Use of short-acting β2-agonists in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) during treatment with long-acting β2-agonists is recommended as needed, but its effectiveness is unclear. The purpose of this study was to assess the additional bronchodilating effect of increasing doses of salbutamol during acute and chronic treatment with formoterol in patients with COPD. Methods: Ten patients with COPD underwent a dose-response curve to salbutamol (until 800 μg of cumulative dose) after a 1-week washout (baseline), 8 hours after the first administration of formoterol 12 μg (day 1), and after a 12-week and 24-week period of treatment with formoterol (12 μg twice daily by dry powder inhaler). Peak expiratory flow, forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1), forced vital capacity, and inspiratory capacity were measured at the different periods of treatment and at different steps of the dose-response curve. Results: Despite acute or chronic administration of formoterol, maximal values of peak expiratory flow, FEV1, and forced vital capacity after 800 μg of salbutamol were unchanged compared with baseline. The baseline FEV1 dose-response curve was steeper than that at day 1, week 12, or week 24 (P, 0.0001). Within each dose-response curve, FEV1 was different only at baseline and at day 1 (P, 0.001), when FEV1 was still greater at 800 μg than at 0 μg (P, 0.02). In contrast, the forced vital capacity dose-response curves were similar at the different periods, while within each dose-response curve, forced vital capacity was different in all instances (P, 0.001), always being higher at 800 μg than at 0 μg (P, 0.05). Conclusion: In patients with stable COPD, the maximal effect of salbutamol on peak expiratory flow, FEV1, and forced vital capacity was unchanged after either acute or chronic treatment with formoterol. With increasing doses of salbutamol, FEV1 increased only after acute administration of formoterol. Forced vital capacity also significantly improved during long-term treatment with formoterol.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)399-405
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of COPD
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Formoterol
  • Long-acting β2-agonists
  • Salbutamol

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health Policy
  • Medicine(all)


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