Respiratory Medicine (2007) 101, 845 – 849

Comparison of bronchodilator responses of levosalbutamol and salbutamol given via a pressurized metered dose inhaler: A randomized, double blind, single-dose, crossover study
A. Jantikara, B. Brashiera, M. Maganjia, A. Raghupathya, P. Mahadikb, P. Gokhaleb, J. Gogtayb, S. Salvia,Ã
a b

Chest Research Foundation, Marigold Premises, Survey No. 15, Vadgaonsheri, Kalyaninagar, Pune 411 014, India Cipla Pharmaceuticals Ltd, Mumbai, India

Received 28 October 2005; accepted 24 February 2006

Asthma; Bronchodilator; Levosalbutamol; pressurized metered dose inhaler; salbutamol

Summary Background: Salbutamol, the most widely used short-acting b2-agonist, consists of a racemic mixture of equal amounts of two enantiomers, (R)-salbutamol and (S)-salbutamol. The bronchodilator effects of salbutamol are attributed entirely to (R)-salbutamol (levosalbutamol), while (S)-salbutamol has been shown to possess bronchospastic and pro-inflammatory effects both in vitro and in vivo studies. Levosalbutamol, the (R)enantiomer of salbutamol is currently available only in a liquid formulation for use via a nebulizer. Recently, levosalbutamol to be administered via a pressurized metered dose inhaler (pMDI) has been developed. Aims: To compare the time-dependent bronchodilator responses of single doses of 100 mcg levosalbutamol and 200 mcg racemic salbutamol administered via a pMDI in subjects with stable mild-to-moderate bronchial asthma over a period of 6 h. Methods: Single doses of 100 mcg levosalbutamol, 200 mcg salbutamol and placebo were administered with a pMDI in 30 stable asthmatic subjects in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, three-way cross over study. Forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1) and forced vital capacity (FVC) were measured at baseline, and over 6 h post-study drug administration.

Abbreviations: ANOVA ¼ Analysis of variance; ATS ¼ American Thoracic Society; AUC ¼ Area under curve; CI ¼ Confidence interval; COPD ¼ Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; FEV1 ¼ Forced expiratory volume in 1 s; FVC ¼ Forced vital capacity; L ¼ Liters; Min ¼ Minutes; mL ¼ Milliliters; pMDI ¼ pressurized metered dose inhaler ÃCorresponding author. Tel.: +91 20 27035361; fax: +91 20 27035371. E-mail address: (S. Salvi). 0954-6111/$ - see front matter & 2006 Published by Elsevier Ltd. doi:10.1016/j.rmed.2006.02.020

is as effective as that administered via a nebulizer in patients with acute severe exacerbations. 1 and 6 h after the administration of study drug medications. double-blinded. Blood was collected for the measurement of serum potassium levels before and 1 h after the administration of the study medications. in a randomized. Jantikar et al. Pre-clinical studies have suggested that (S)-salbutamol might antagonize the smooth muscle relaxing actions of (R)-salbutamol by increasing intracellular Ca2+ levels. being exact non-superimposable (mirror) images of one another. The lung function tests were performed by a trained lung function technician using ATS guidelines.12 Salbutamol administered via pMDI is widely used in the management of symptomatic relief of acute asthma. It is convenient. Study design Male and female stable asthmatic subjects between the age groups of 18–65 years were recruited into the study. or stereoisomers. 240 and 360 min after the study drug administration using a volume-based bellows Gold Standard Vitalographs Spirometer. mild-tomoderate bronchial asthma. Lung function parameters (FEV1 and forced vital capacity (FVC)) were measured before (baseline values) and 5. Although levosalbutamol [(R)-salbutamol] has been introduced in the management of asthma and COPD since 1999. Asthma was defined according to American Thoracic Society (ATS) criteria (history suggestive of asthma. crossover manner via a pMDI and a non-static spacer (ZerostatTM spacer. The time to onset of action. at least 3 days apart.4–9 (S)-salbutamol has no clinically meaningful ability to relax airway smooth muscle.ARTICLE IN PRESS 846 A. the bronchodilator property of racemic (R. .14 All the study subjects were non-smokers and none of them received oral steroids or had an acute asthma exacerbation 4 weeks prior to the start of the study. increase the production of histamine.3 As a result. especially in children have shown that levosalbutamol produces a similar bronchodilator response as racemic salbutamol even when administered at one-half or one-fourth the dose. mean maximum bronchodilator response and duration of bronchodilator response were similar between levosalbutamol and salbutamol. Introduction Salbutamol (Albuterol) is the most widely used short-acting b2-agonist in the symptomatic relief of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). both administered by a pMDI in subjects with chronic stable mild-to-moderate asthma. Single doses of 100 mcg levosalbutamol. In all formulations. The propellant used in this study was CFC (Chlorofluorocarbons) comprising of trichlorofluromethane and dichlorofluromethane. cheap.. The difference of up to 12% in the baseline FEV1 between the two study visits was accepted.9]15 and underwent assessment for the proper use of a pMDI. 60. All subjects had a baseline FEV1 of at least 60% predicted [calculated as per European Community for Coal and Steel (ECCS) X 0. promote eosinophil recruitment and activation. Pulse rate was measured before.1 Although these isomers are chemically identical. & 2006 Published by Elsevier Ltd.16 The highest FEV1 value at each time point was considered for analysis. they differ in conformation. Care was taken to ensure that the subjects had avoided short-acting b2-agonists for at least 8 h and long-acting b2-agonists and oral theophyllines for at least 24 h prior to the start of the study visits. levosalbutamol has been developed to be delivered via a pMDI (50 mcg per puff). Cipla Ltd. Those subjects who were on regular (at least 4 weeks duration) inhaled corticosteroids were allowed to continue with their medication at the same dose throughout the entire duration of the study. Clinical studies. 120. easy to use and effective. and when administered via a spacer. Results: Levosalbutamol and salbutamol produced significantly better bronchodilator responses than placebo.2 (R)-salbutamol has been shown to have a 2-fold greater binding affinity than racemic salbutamol and a 100-fold greater binding affinity than (S)-salbutamol for the b2-adrenergic receptor. 15. Pregnant and lactating women were exempted from the study.and (S)-isomers. improvement in forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1) of at least 12% and 200 mL with 200 mcg racemic salbutamol). it is available only in a liquid formulation to be administered by a nebulizer. Conclusion: A single dose of 100 mcg levosalbutamol administered by a pMDI produced a similar bronchodilator response as salbutamol when measured over 6 h in subjects with stable. Both the drugs showed equivalent time-dependent bronchodilator responses as measured by area under curve for percent change in FEV1 and FVC over 6 h. India).13 Recently. The study was approved by the institutional ethics committee and a written informed consent was obtained from all study subjects.11 These divergent properties of (R).10 (S)-salbutamol given alone has also been reported to enhance airway hyperresponsiveness to spasmogens in vitro. salbutamol consists of a racemic mixture of equal amounts (50:50) of (R).S)-salbutamol is attributed entirely to (R)-salbutamol. 30. The pressurized metered dose (pMDI) inhaler is the most widely used device for drug delivery in patients with asthma. India) were administered on three separate study days.and (S)-salbutamol suggest that administration of only (R)-salbutamol would have a better therapeutic index than racemic salbutamol. The aim of this study was to compare the time-dependent bronchodilator effects of single doses of 100 mcg levosalbutamol and 200 mcg racemic salbutamol. 200 mcg racemic salbutamol and placebo (manufactured by Cipla Ltd. Peripheral venous blood was analyzed for routine hemogram and biochemistry during the screening visit to rule out other associated disorders. and increase airway smooth muscle contractility.

6 for levosalbutamol and salbutamol respectively. There was no significant difference in the baseline FEV1 values on the 2 study days (mean7SD for levosalbutamol was 1. The mean duration of response (difference between onset and termination of effect) for levosalbutamol was 208 min and for racemic salbutamol was 212 min. 847 Table 1 Variables Demographic details of study subjects.8 versus 3463. The summary of the demographic details is shown in Table 1.54 (5. The mean differences in AUC for percent change in FEV1 and FVC between racemic salbutamol and levosalbutamol from baseline to 6 h were not significant [(FEV1 AUC0À6 h: 7486. This difference was not statistically significant (P ¼ 0:75).73 (0. P40:05) (FVC AUC0À6 h: 3814. P40:05)] (Fig.70 (0. The mean maximum difference for FEV1 from baseline was 537 mL with levosalbutamol and 538 mL with racemic salbutamol. P ¼ 0:28).6 min to reach the maximum FEV1 and FVC response.55) 2. time to onset of response.0) years. The time to onset of bronchodilator response was defined as an increase in FEV1 of 12% and 200 mL from the baseline value. The AUC for FEV1 was calculated for each subject during each study treatment using the trapezoidal rule. The safety parameters assessed were mean changes in pulse rate and serum potassium levels from baseline values to 1 h after study medications. The mean age of the study population was 44. 13 females 1.61 (4. FVC: forced vital capacity. The mean difference in the AUC for the two treatment groups were analyzed using ANOVA approach for Schuirmann’s two one-sided test of equivalence. Canada) considering the mean maximum change in FEV1 following salbutamol administration from our previous study. 2). An independent statistician who was blinded to the codes for the study medications performed the statistical analysis. racemic salbutamol and placebo. while racemic salbutamol took 67. time to maximum response and duration of response.5 and 64.05).66. Results Forty-two subjects were screened for the study and 30 were randomized (11 subjects did not meet the criteria for either airflow reversibility or percent FEV1 predicted.7570. All the subjects completed the study without any significant adverse effects.3 min.0) 17 males. Mean (SD) 44. 40 35 Mean % change in FEV1 30 25 20 15 10 5 0 Baseline -5 5 Levosalbutamol Racemic salbutamol Placebo n=30 p≥0.05 15 30 60 120 Time (in minutes) 240 360 Figure 1 Mean percentage change in FEV1 values over a period of 6 h following single dose administration of levosalbutamol. The mean response to all treatments was compared by multi-factorial analyses of variance (ANOVA) to determine the overall effect of interventions.3 and 52. L: litres. suggesting that 100 mcg levosalbutamol and 200 mcg racemic salbutamol produced equivalent bronchodilator responses over 6 h.8 (11.31 (Vanderbilt. The time to onset for the bronchodilator response (increase of at least 200 mL and 12% in FEV1 from baseline) for levosalbutamol was 12 min. respectively. These differences were not statistically significant when compared to each other (P ¼ 0:94).87) Mean age (years) Sex Mean FEV1 (SD) L Mean FVC (SD) L Mean FEV1/FVC (SD) FEV1 reversibility (SD) as percentage (FEV1: forced expiratory volume after 1 s. SD: standard deviation). 1).73) 17.7770. while the duration of action was taken as the previous time point when the fall in FEV1 was at least 200 mL from the baseline value.0001 for FEV1 and o0.0001 for FVC) (Fig. while that for racemic salbutamol was 18 min and the differences between the two were not significant.1. 1 showing FEV1% change).86) 70. suggesting that 100 mcg levosalbutamol and 200 mcg racemic salbutamol produced an equivalent mean maximum increase in FEV1 and FVC. Equivalence was accepted if the mean difference with 95% CI’s of the study variables were contained within the set limits. The secondary efficacy parameters were the mean maximum FEV1 and FVC change from baseline. These differences were not statistically significant. respectively (Fig. A sample size of 24 was required to detect differences between study medications with 80% power to show equivalence at a significance level of 5%.2 for levosalbutamol and salbutamol. The medication codes were broken at the end of the complete analysis.ARTICLE IN PRESS Bronchodilator effect of pMDI levosalbutamol The primary efficacy parameter was the mean difference in area under the curve (AUC) for percent change in FEV1 and FVC from baseline to 6 h.63 and racemic salbutamol was 1. Spirometric data (FEV1. FVC) for each study treatment were analyzed using student’s t-test for paired variables. Duncan’s multiple range testing with 95% confidence interval (CI) was used where the differences were significant (Po0. while one subject withdrew consent). Single doses of 100 mcg levosalbutamol and 200 mcg racemic salbutamol produced a significantly better timedependent bronchodilator response as measured by AUC percentage change for FEV1 and FVC from baseline to 6 h when compared to placebo (P values o0. Sample size estimation for this study was done using a PS (Power and Sample Size) Software Version 2. while the mean maximum difference for FVC was 456 and 417 mL. respectively.3 versus 7493. suggesting that there was no . Levosalbutamol took 58.8 (711.

18 perhaps induced by stimulating intracellular calcium accumulation and inhibiting adenyl cyclase. Jantikar et al. respectively). Until recently. These divergent pharmacologic properties form the scientific rationale for the potential advantages of levosalbutamol over racemic salbutamol in the treatment of asthma and other airway disorders. Human epinephrine produced by the adrenal gland occurs only in the (R)-isomer form. we have demonstrated for the first time that a single dose of 100 mcg of levosalbutamol administered via a pMDI produced a similar time-dependent bronchodilator response as that of 200 mcg racemic salbutamol in subjects with mild-to-moderate stable asthma. in vitro cellular data have implicated (S)-salbutamol as a possible cause of airway hyperreactivity. mean maximum change in FEV1 and FVC and duration of the bronchodilator effect. In this study. have reported that nebulized levosalbutamol produced similar effects on heart rate as racemic salbutamol. Both levosalbutamol and racemic salbutamol produced a significant decrease in serum potassium level 1 h after study drug administration compared to their respective baseline values. The bronchodilator properties of racemic salbutamol (R. Racemic salbutamol and levosalbutamol 60 min post-drug administration both produced a significant increase in pulse rate versus their baseline.19 This leads to an increase in the therapeutic index of levosalbutamol when compared to racemic salbutamol.ARTICLE IN PRESS 848 n=30 700 Mean maximum increase in FEV1 (mL) 600 500 400 300 200 100 0 Placebo Salbutamol Levosalbutamol p>0. which has its own drawbacks. Cockcroft et al.9–77. optically pure isomers of b2-agonists were not available or were not thought necessary for optimum clinical safety or efficacy in acute asthma treatment. P ¼ 0:19).61–4. respectively). Since we used single doses of 100 mcg levosalbutamol and 200 mcg of racemic salbutamol we did not expect to find significant numbers of patients experiencing tremors at this small dose. (4. bronchoconstriction or inflammation.39–4. These enantiomers have similar physical and chemical properties. with the (S)-isomer being inert.4–77.8 beats/ min.47–4.37.20 These pre-clinical findings have been confirmed in some clinical studies that show a greater bronchodilation with levosalbutamol compared to salbutamol when given either as a long-term therapy6 (4 weeks) or when given in a single dose.05 A. Our study demonstrates that 100 mcg levosalbutamol administered in a pMDI formulation is as effective as 200 mcg racemic salbutamol.6. Salbutamol is the most widely used inhaled short-acting b2-agonist in the symptomatic relief of asthma and COPD. Po0. These observations are in accordance with Lotvall et al.25. but have different receptor specificity and therefore have different pharmacological and physiological effects. The results of this study confirm earlier reports that the bronchodilator effects of salbutamol are entirely attributable to its (R)-enantiomer. mol in subjects with asthma lie entirely with the (R)-isomer. These dosages were used to simulate those used in routine clinical practice. We did not assess tremors. we did not find any difference in pulse rates and decreases in serum potassium levels between levosalbutamol and racemic salbutamol. racemic salbutamol and levosalbutamol. Also tremor assessment is a subjective observation. crossover study. time to onset of bronchodilator response. Moreover.05. mean maximum change in FEV1 and FVC.13. this is the first reported study that has investigated the efficacy and safety of a single dose of levosalbutamol administered via a pMDI. when measured by percentage changes in FEV1 and FVC AUCs from baseline to 6 h.001 and 4. difference in the duration of bronchodilator response between the two study drugs. placebo-controlled.17.5 who have demonstrated that the adverse effects of racemic salbutamol on heart rate and potassium levels are mediated mainly by the (R)-enantiomer. suggesting that tachycardia caused by salbutamol is attributed to (R)-salbutamol. Although earlier studies 19.21 have reported that (R)-salbutamol and racemic salbutamol are equally effective in lowering serum potassium levels. Po0. Both the drugs increased pulse rate and reduced serum potassium levels equally. The time to onset of bronchodilator response. There was no significant difference in the pulse rate 6 h post-drug administration compared to baseline values (data not shown). Pancu et al. P ¼ 0:004. The availability of purified (R)-salbutamol (levosalbutamol) and the United States Food and Drug Administration’s position to quantify the safety of racemic drugs have generated renewed interest in the role of inert isomers.S) have been shown to be attributed entirely to the (R)-enantiomer.3 beats/min. Po0.05 and 72.19.20 had suggested that levosalbutamol might show lesser clinical side effects than the racemic form. when measured 1 h after administration. To our knowledge. (73. we compared the bronchodilator effects of single doses of 100 mcg levosalbutamol and 200 mcg racemic salbutamol administered via a pMDI in subjects with asthma over a period of 6 h. This study has therefore shown that the bronchodilator effect and systemic side effects of salbutamol reside with the (R)-enantiomer. Clinical studies have demonstrated that the bronchodilator and bronchoprotective effects of racemic salbuta- . The placebo treatment did not show any significant decline in serum potassium levels (4. double-blind. time to reach the mean maximum FEV1 and FVC responses and the duration of responses were similar between the two study medications.and (S)-enantiomers. It consists of a racemic mixture of equal amounts of (R). Discussion In this randomized. Figure 2 Mean maximum increase in FEV1 from baseline after administration of placebo.

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