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Comparison of the systemic effects of fluticasone propionate and budesonide given by dry powder inhaler in healthy and asthmatic subjects.

Author(s): Harrison TW, Wisniewski A, Honour J, Tattersfield AE

Affiliation(s): Division of Respiratory Medicine, Nottingham City Hospital, Nottingham NG5 1PB, UK. tim.harrison@nottingham.ac.uk

Publication date & source: 2001-03, Thorax., 56(3):186-91.

Publication type: Clinical Trial; Randomized Controlled Trial

BACKGROUND: The potential for long term adverse effects from inhaled corticosteroids relates to their systemic absorption, usually assessed from proxy markers in short term studies. When fluticasone propionate and budesonide have been compared in this way the results have been inconsistent. To determine whether this is because of the subjects studied or the sensitivity of the systemic marker used, we have compared the effects of fluticasone propionate and budesonide in healthy and asthmatic subjects and investigated the effect of treatment on three systemic markers. METHODS: Forty six healthy subjects were randomised to receive inhaled fluticasone propionate 1500 microg/day (via an Accuhaler), budesonide 1600 microg/day (via a Turbuhaler), or placebo; 31 subjects with moderately severe asthma were randomised to receive the same doses of fluticasone propionate or budesonide but not placebo. Systemic effects in healthy and asthmatic subjects were compared after 7 days. Treatment was continued for another 21 days in the subjects with asthma when systemic effects and asthma control were assessed. RESULTS: At baseline healthy subjects had higher urinary levels of total cortisol metabolites (TCM) than subjects with asthma. After 7 days of treatment with fluticasone propionate urinary TCM levels in the healthy subjects were significantly lower than in the subjects with asthma (mean difference between groups 1663 microg/day, 95% CI 328 to 2938). This was not the case with budesonide, however, where urinary TCM levels in the healthy subjects remained above those in the asthmatic subjects (mean difference between groups 1210 microg/day, 95% CI -484 to 2904). Urinary TCM levels were considerably more sensitive to the effects of inhaled corticosteroids than morning serum cortisol or osteocalcin concentrations. Only budesonide reduced the serum level of osteocalcin. CONCLUSIONS: When given by dry powder inhaler for 7 days, fluticasone propionate 1500 microg/day has a greater effect on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis in healthy subjects than in subjects with asthma, but this is not the case for budesonide 1600 microg/day. These findings, together with the differences in sensitivity between systemic markers, explain many of the discrepancies in the literature.

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