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Title: Effects of drugs on mucus clearance
Authors: Houtmeyers, Els ×
Gosselink, Rik
Gayan-Ramirez, Ghislaine
Decramer, Marc #
Issue Date: Aug-1999
Series Title: European Respiratory Journal vol:14 issue:2 pages:452-67
Abstract: Mucociliary clearance (MCC), the process in which airway mucus together with substances trapped within are moved out of the lungs, is an important defence mechanism of the human body. Drugs may alter this process, such that it is necessary to know the effect of the drugs on MCC. Indeed, agents stimulating MCC may be used therapeutically in respiratory medicine, especially in patients suspected of having an impairment of their mucociliary transport system. In contrast, caution should be taken with drugs depressing MCC as an undesired side-effect, independently of their therapeutic indication. Since cough clearance (CC) serves as a back-up system when MCC fails, the influence of drugs must be examined not only on MCC but also on CC. Ultimately, the clinical repercussions of alterations in mucus transport induced by drug administration must be studied. Tertiary ammonium compounds (anticholinergics), aspirin, anaesthetic agents and benzodiazepines have been shown to be capable of depressing the mucociliary transport system. Cholinergics, methylxanthines, sodium cromoglycate, hypertonic saline, saline as well as water aerosol have been shown to increase MCC. Adrenergic antagonists, guaifenesin, S-carboxymethylcysteine, sodium 2-mercapto-ethane sulphonate and frusemide have been reported not to alter the mucociliary transport significantly. Amiloride, uridine 5'-triphosphate (UTP), quaternary ammonium compounds (anticholinergics), adrenergic agonists, corticosteroids, recombinant human deoxyribonuclease (rhDNase), N-acetylcysteine, bromhexine and ambroxol have been reported either not to change or to augment MCC. Indirect data suggest that surfactant as well as antibiotics may improve the mucociliary transport system. As for the influence of drugs on CC, amiloride and rhDNase have been demonstrated to increase the effectiveness of cough. A trend towards an improved CC was noted after treatment with adrenergic agonists. The anticholinergic agent ipratropium bromide, which is a quaternary ammonium compound, has been suggested to decrease CC significantly. Bromhexine, ambroxol and neutral saline seemed not to alter CC, either positively or negatively. Finally, treatment with either amiloride, recombinant human deoxyribonuclease, bromhexine, ambroxol, N-acetylcysteine, S-carboxymethylcysteine or hypertonic saline has been suggested as a possible cause of clinical improvement in patients, such as the experience of dyspnoea, the case of expectoration or the frequency of infective exacerbations. Other agents did not show a clinical benefit.
URI: 
ISSN: 0903-1936
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: IT
Appears in Collections:Pneumology
Research Group for Cardiovascular and Respiratory Rehabilitation
× corresponding author
# (joint) last author

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