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      Optimization of Nebulized Budesonide in the Treatment of Acute Exacerbation of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

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          Clinical studies have suggested nebulized budesonide (NB) as an alternative to systemic corticosteroids for patients with acute exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (AECOPD). However, the optimal budesonide dose for AECOPD remains unclear.


          To compare the efficacy and safety of different doses of NB in the management of AECOPD.

          Patients and Methods

          A total of 321 AECOPD patients with moderate-to-severe exacerbation were randomly divided into three groups and treated with NB. The low dose group (L) was given 4 mg/day (n=95, 1 mg Q6h), while high-dose group 1 (H1, n=111, 2 mg Q6h) and high-dose group 2 (H2, n=115, 4 mg Q12h) were given 8 mg/day. Patients also received routine treatment including oxygen therapy, expectorant, nebulization bronchodilators, antibiotics, and fluid rehydration. The COPD assessment test (CAT), lung function, and artery blood gas were evaluated before and after 3 hrs and 5 days of treatment. In addition, hospital stay, frequency of acute exacerbations within 3 months of discharge, and adverse events during treatment were compared.


          H1 and H2 showed improved spirograms and CAT score faster than L. In H2, forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV 1%) at 3 hrs and FEV 1%, forced expiratory flow after 50% of the forced vital capacity has been exhaled (FEF 50%), mean forced expiratory flow between 25% and 75% of forced vital capacity (FEF 25–75%) and CAT score at 5 days were significantly improved compared to L. FEV 1% improved most in H2, moderately in H1, and least in L, with significant differences between groups at 5 days. No differences between groups were observed in adverse effects, hospital stay, and frequency of exacerbations within 3 months of discharge.


          Compared to the conventional dose (4 mg/day), a high dose (8 mg/day) of NB improved pulmonary function and symptoms more effectively in the early treatment of AECOPD, especially when given as 4 mg twice daily.

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          Most cited references 24

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          Corticosteroids contribute to muscle weakness in chronic airflow obstruction.

          Twenty-one patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or asthma, admitted to our division because of exacerbation of their conditions and requiring intensified treatment with corticosteroids, underwent pulmonary function tests, tests of respiratory muscle function, measurement of quadricep strength, and a variety of anthropometric and biochemical measurements. All tests were performed the 10th day after admission. As expected, muscle strength and pulmonary function were interrelated. Surprisingly, the average daily dose of steroids taken in the previous 6 mo, which ranged from 1.4 to 21.3 mg (average 4.3 mg), was significantly related to inspiratory muscle strength (PImax) and a similar tendency was present for expiratory muscle strength (PEmax). Multiple regression analysis of the relationship between PImax and quadriceps force (QF) and steroid dose revealed that the average daily dose independently explained 32% of the variance in PImax and up to 51% of the variance in QF. These relationships were independent of the degree of bronchial obstruction estimated by percentage predicted FEV1. Other significant determinants were age, sex, and COPD for PImax and age, sex, and body weight for QF. The present study demonstrates that in patients with COPD or asthma, respiratory and peripheral muscle strength and steroid treatment are interrelated despite the relatively low doses administered. This observation imposes further limitations on the prolonged treatment of chronic airflow obstruction with systemic corticosteroids.
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            Suppression and recovery of adrenal response after short-term, high-dose glucocorticoid treatment.

            Suppression of the adrenal response is an unpredictable consequence of glucocorticoid treatment. To investigate the kinetics of the adrenal response after short-term, high-dose glucocorticoid treatment, we measured the adrenal response to the low-dose (1 microg) corticotropin stimulation test. We studied 75 patients who received the equivalent of at least 25 mg prednisone daily for between 5 days and 30 days. After discontinuation of glucocorticoid treatment, 1 microg corticotropin was administered intravenously, and stimulated plasma cortisol concentrations were measured 30 min later. In patients with a suppressed response to 1 microg corticotropin, the test was repeated until stimulated plasma cortisol concentrations reached the normal range. The adrenal response to 1 microg corticotropin was suppressed in 34 patients and normal in 41. Subsequent low-dose corticotropin tests showed a steady recovery of the adrenal response within 14 days. In two patients, the adrenal response remained suppressed for several months. There was no correlation between plasma cortisol concentrations and the duration or dose of glucocorticoid treatment. Suppression of the adrenal response is common after short-term, high-dose glucocorticoid treatment. The low-dose corticotropin test is a sensitive and simple test to assess the adrenal response after such treatment.
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              Relevance of pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of inhaled corticosteroids to asthma.

              The pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic effects of inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) have shaped the efficacy and safety of these agents in the treatment of asthma. Important pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic characteristics that can enhance the efficacy of ICS include small particle size, high glucocorticoid-receptor-binding affinity, long pulmonary residence time and lipid conjugation. These characteristics can increase or prolong the anti-inflammatory effects of an ICS. Important pharmacokinetic characteristics that can enhance the safety of ICS include on-site activation in the lung, low oropharyngeal exposure, negligible oral bioavailability, high protein-binding and rapid systemic clearance. The degree of oropharyngeal exposure is relevant to local side-effects, such as oropharyngeal candidiasis, dysphonia and coughing. Pharmacokinetic properties that influence the degree of systemic exposure are relevant to the pharmacodynamic effect of ICS-induced hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis suppression and cortisol suppression, an indicator of potential long-term systemic side-effects, such as reduced growth velocity and bone density, fractures, and skin bruising and thinning. Therefore, significant differences in the pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic characteristics of the currently available inhaled corticosteroids warrant careful consideration when used in clinical practice as they may result in differences in efficacy and local and systemic safety profiles.

                Author and article information

                Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis
                Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis
                International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
                26 February 2020
                : 15
                : 409-415
                [1 ]Department of Respiratory Medicine, Affiliated Hospital of Xuzhou Medical College , Xuzhou, Jiangsu, People’s Republic of China
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Shuyang Zhu Department of Respiratory Medicine, Affiliated Hospital of Xuzhou Medical College , Xuzhou, West Huaihai Road #99, Xuzhou221000, People’s Republic of China Email

                These authors contributed equally to this work

                © 2020 Zhang et al.

                This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms (

                Page count
                Tables: 5, References: 35, Pages: 7
                Original Research


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