Neurokinin A (NKA) has been shown to exert a potent contractile action on bronchial smooth muscles both in vitro and in vivo. Although this effect seems to be due either to a direct action of this peptide on specific muscular receptors or to an indirect effect on mast cells and/or nerves, its mechanism of action in bronchial asthma is still unknown. In the present study we have investigated the airway response to inhaled NKA in 10 asthmatic subjects and the activity of the novel pyranoquinoline dicarboxylic acid drug, nedocromil sodium, on this response. Ten asthmatic patients with stable asthma took part in the study consisting of four separate visits. On the first two occasions we derived histamine and NKA PD15 values in absence of any drug treatment. On the following two visits the inhalation challenge with NKA was performed after administration of either nedocromil sodium or matched placebo administered as pressurized aerosols via metered dose inhalers in a randomized double-blind order. Inhaled NKA produced a dose-related fall in FEV1 in all the subjects studied. Inhaled nedocromil sodium had a significant effect on the FEV1 response to NKA inhalation, the geometric mean PD15 value increasing from 16.6 to 32.2 × 10−9 mol.
We conclude that nedocromil sodium attenuates subsequent responsiveness to inhaled NKA in asthmatic subjects. However, further studies are necessary to investigate the exact role and the mode of action of tachykinins in human airways.