Effect of cetirizine on bronchial hyperresponsiveness in patients with seasonal allergic rhinitis and asthma


Professor Michel Aubier
Service de Pneumologie
Hôpital Bichat
46 Rue Henri Huchard
75018 Paris


Although H1 antihistamine compounds (H1) are highly effective in the treatment of allergic rhinitis (AR), their role in the treatment of asthma is still controversial. Because a strong association between AR and bronchial hyperresponsiveness (BHR) has been reported, this study was designed to assess the effect of a new H1 anti histamine, cetirizine (C), on nonspecific BHR in patients with AR. Twelve patients were included in a double-blind, crossover, placebo-controlled trial. All patients had positive skin tests for common allergens and showed BHR to inhaled methacholine after specific nasal allergenic challenge. After a washout period of 1 week to ensure the stability of the BHR, the patients received, by crossover randomization, C 10 mg daily or placebo (P) for 2 weeks. After each treatment period, BHR and nasal blocking index (NBI) were measured 1 and 6 h after nasal challenge. Bronchial responsiveness was expressed as methacholine PD20, the provocation dose of methacholine causing a 20% decrease in FEV1. Measurements were then performed after 2 weeks of C and after 2 weeks of P. Baseline values of PD20 (median) measured before challenge showed no difference after cetirizine or after placebo (1.36 mg). Results 1 h after allergen did not show significant differences between C (methacholine PD20=0.522 mg) and placebo (methacholine PD20=0.455 mg). By contrast, 6 h after challenge, methacholine PD20 was 0.918 mg for C and 0.483 mg for P (P=0.042). Similarly, NBI showed no change between C and P 1 h after challenge, whereas the difference was significant 6 h after challenge (P=0.011). These data demonstrate a protective nasal effect of C against BHR measured 6 h after nasal allergen challenge in patients with AR. They suggest that C may be useful in patients with asthma associated with AR.