The effect of inhaling a dry powder of sodium chloride on the airways of asthmatic subjects

S D Anderson, J Spring, B Moore, L T Rodwell, N Spalding, I Gonda, K Chan, A Walsh, A R Clark

PMID: 9426080 DOI: 10.1183/09031936.97.10112465


Wet aerosols of 4.5% sodium chloride (NaCl) are often used to assess the bronchial responsiveness associated with asthma. We questioned whether dry NaCl could be used as an alternative. Dry powder NaCl was inhaled from capsules containing either 5, 10, 20 or 40 mg to a cumulative dose of 635 mg. The powder was delivered via an Inhalator or Halermatic. The airway sensitivity to the dry and wet NaCl was compared in 24 patients with asthma aged 19-39 yrs. All subjects responded to both preparations and the geometric mean (95% confidence intervals) for the provocative dose of NaCl causing forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) to fall 20% from baseline (PD[20,NaCl]) for dry NaCl was 103 mg (68-157) versus 172 mg (102-292), p<0.03 for the wet NaCl. The response to dry NaCl was reproducible and on repeat challenge the PD20 was 108 mg (75-153). The mean maximum fall in FEV1 was approximately 25% on each of the two test days. Spontaneous recovery occurred within 60 min after challenge with dry NaCl and within 5 min after bronchodilator. There were no serious side-effects requiring medical attention, however some patients coughed on inhalation of the 40 mg dose and three gagged. Arterial oxygen saturation remained within normal limits. We conclude that a suitably prepared dry powder of sodium chloride could potentially replace wet sodium chloride to assess bronchial responsiveness in patients with asthma, but further studies are required to establish the long-term stability of the dry powder preparation.