Respiratory care

Nebulized corticosteroids in asthma and COPD. An Italian appraisal.

PMID 22272733


Inhaled corticosteroids (ICSs) are the mainstay of anti-inflammatory treatment in subjects with asthma and COPD. This review evaluates the role of nebulizers as an alternative to inhalers for delivering ICSs in asthma and COPD. I selected 16 randomized, placebo-controlled, blinded, long-term studies, mostly carried out in asthma (n = 14) and COPD. Nebulized budesonide has been demonstrated to be effective and safe in children ages 1-8 years, and, with less evidence, in infants and adults with asthma. Other investigations, with the addition of in vitro and in vivo comparison studies, have shown that nebulized beclomethasone, fluticasone, and flunisolide are effective alternatives to nebulized budesonide in asthma and COPD. Efficient delivery of nebulized ICSs requires that the nebulizer system, the nebulized drug formulation, and the inhaling subject interact properly. The practices of mixing nebulized ICSs with bronchodilators and using nebulized ICSs in acute settings are promising, but require further confirmations, and at present cannot be recommended. I conclude that nebulizers may be considered as an effective alternative to inhalers for delivering ICSs and can be recommended to asthmatic and COPD subjects who are unwilling or unable to use inhalers. Newer formulations could possibly offer a relevant advance for a more efficient nebulization of ICSs.