Acetlycholine is involved in the control of airway smooth muscle constriction and in recruitment of inflammatory cells via neuronal and paracrine effects on muscarinic type 3 receptors. Long acting muscarinic antagonists (LAMA) are well established in guidelines for COPD but are not currently licensed for use in asthma. There are emerging data from key clinical trials to show that LAMA may confer bronchodilator effects and improved control when used in addition to inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) alone or in conjunction with long acting ß-adrenoceptor agonists (LABA). Further studies in persistent asthmatic patients are required to evaluate ICS sparing effects of LAMA looking particularly at airway hyper-responsiveness and surrogate inflammatory markers, in addition to evaluation of possible synergy between LAMA and LABA when given together. Future possible development of combination inhalers comprising ICS/LAMA or ICS/LAMA/LABA will require long term studies looking at asthma control and exacerbations in both adult and paediatric patients.
- muscarinic antagonist