Effect of inhaled bronchodilators on inspiratory capacity and dyspnoea at rest in COPD

F. Di Marco, J. Milic-Emili, B. Boveri, P. Carlucci, P. Santus, F. Casanova, M. Cazzola, Stefano Centanni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It has been shown that patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) develop dynamic hyperinflation (DH), which contributes to dyspnoea and exercise intolerance. Formoterol, salmeterol and oxitropium have been recommended for maintenance therapy in COPD patients, but their effect on DH has only been assessed for salmeterol. The aim of the present study was to compare the acute effect of four inhaled bronchodilators (salbutamol, formoterol, salmeterol and oxitropium) and placebo on forced expiratory volume in one second, inspiratory capacity, forced vital capacity and dyspnoea in COPD patients. A cross-over, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study was carried out on 20 COPD patients. Patients underwent pulmonary function testing and dyspnoea evaluation, in basal condition and 5, 15, 30, 60 and 120 min after bronchodilator or placebo administration. The results indicate that in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients with decreased baseline inspiratory capacity, there was a much greater increase of inspiratory capacity after bronchodilator administration, which correlated closely with the improvement of dyspnoea sensation at rest. For all bronchodilators used, inspiratory capacity reversibility should be tested at 30 min following the bronchodilator. On average, formoterol elicited the greatest increase in inspiratory capacity than the other bronchodilators used, though the difference was significant only with salmeterol and oxitropium. The potential advantage of formoterol needs to be tested in a larger patient population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)86-94
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Respiratory Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2003


  • Dynamic hyperinflation
  • Expiratory flow limitation
  • Formoterol
  • Oxitropium
  • Salbutamol
  • Salmeterol

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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