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Methacholine challenge testing: comparative pharmacology

Authors Davis BE, Blais CM, Cockcroft DW

Received 22 December 2017

Accepted for publication 2 March 2018

Published 14 May 2018 Volume 2018:11 Pages 89—99

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/JAA.S160607

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Ms Justinn Cochran

Peer reviewer comments 4

Editor who approved publication: Dr Luis Garcia-Marcos


Beth E Davis, Christianne M Blais, Donald W Cockcroft

Division of Respirology, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK, Canada

Abstract: Standardization of the methacholine inhalation challenge, the most common direct bronchoprovocation test, is important. One aspect of standardization is the appropriate washout period for pharmacologic agents which affect the response. This review summarizes the available data on pharmacologic inhibition of the methacholine response. Specific (anti-muscarinic) agents demonstrate marked bronchoprotection (up to 7 days for the long-acting drugs) which lasts longer than the duration of bronchodilation. The functional antagonist (beta 2 agonist class of medications) shows marked, but less, bronchoprotection which is relatively short lived and is similar to the duration of bronchodilator efficacy. Tolerance develops quickly, especially to the long-acting agents. Single doses of controller medications, such as inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) and leukotriene receptor antagonists, have no effect on the methacholine test, while regular use, at least for ICS, has a modest protective effect whose duration is uncertain and likely variable. Theophylline has a small effect and H1 blockers (all generations) have a negligible effect.

Keywords: methacholine challenge, bronchoprotection, muscarinic antagonist, beta agonist, glucocorticosteroid, antihistamine

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