Inhaled β2-adrenoceptor agonists are a mainstay of therapy for airways diseases and are almost universally prescribed for patients with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Very few studies have evaluated the efficacy of these commonly used therapies during acute disease exacerbations which are frequently triggered by viral infection. In this edition of Clinical Science, Donovan et al. assess the ex vivo effects of the most commonly used short-acting β2-agonist salbutamol on small airway reactivity using precision cut lung slices (PCLS) from a mouse model of virus-induced exacerbation of COPD. They demonstrate that combined challenge with cigarette smoke and influenza infection in mice markedly impairs salbutamol-mediated airway relaxation. The findings of the present study suggest that cigarette smoke and respiratory virus infection may intefere with the ability of commonly prescribed therapies to effectively bronchodilate the airways.

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