Corticosteroid Withdrawal Restores Responses to Calcium Chelators and Enhances Cholinergic Responsiveness

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To investigate the importance of the inflammatory response in acute peripheral airway constriction, we measured peripheral airway responses to calcium chelators and acetylcholine in anesthetized Basenji-Greyhound (BG) dogs before, during, and after chronic corticosteroid treatment. A wedged bronchoscope technique was used to measure peripheral airway resistance before and after aerosol challenge with 4% Na2EDTA or acetylcholine (10 μg/ml) in contralateral lungs. After the initial measurements, five BG dogs received long-term treatment with methylprednisolone (2 mg/kg/d, subcutaneously), and five dogs were not treated and served as controls. Four weeks of methylprednisolone treatment almost totally abolished responses to Na2EDTA, but responses to acetylcholine did not change significantly. After discontinuing corticosteroid therapy, responses to Na2EDTA returned to levels found before corticosteroid treatment; responses to acetylcholine were significantly enhanced. We conclude that chronic corticosteroid treatment reduces acute response to calcium chelators and that withdrawal of corticosteroid therapy is associated with enhanced cholinergic responsiveness.

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