1. Fenspiride is an anti-inflammatory agent that may have a role in reversible obstructive airways disease. Small, but significant, improvements have been seen in airways function and arterial oxygen tension in patients with mild chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. These changes have been attributed to the anti-inflammatory properties of the drug. However, airways function can be improved by other means, e.g. improved ventilation/perfusion ratio or reduced airways resistance. The possibility that fenspiride may have actions other than anti-inflammatory was investigated in two animal species. 2. In the rat, actions on the pulmonary circulation were investigated in the isolated perfused lung, but fenspiride proved to be a poor pulmonary vasodilator, showing only a small reversal of the raised pulmonary artery pressure induced by hypoxia. 3. Ventilation was measured in the anaesthetized rat using whole-body plethysmography. Fenspiride caused no increase in ventilation or changes in arterial blood gases. However, a profound hypotensive action was observed with high doses. 4. The possibility that a decrease in airways resistance ( R aw ) might occur with fenspiride was investigated in anaesthetized guinea pigs. Capsaicin (30 μmol/l) was used to increase baseline R aw through bronchoconstriction. Fenspiride gave a dose-dependent partial reversal of the raised R aw , and its administration by aerosol proved as efficacious as the intravenous route. In addition, the hypotensive side-effect found with intravenous injection was alleviated by aerosolized fenspiride. 5. An anti-bronchoconstrictor action of fenspiride could be one of the mechanisms involved in improving airways function and P ao 2 , seen in mild chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
1. To test whether almitrine might improve the arterial partial pressure of O 2 in patients with chronic obstructive airways disease by improvement of ventilation-perfusion matching, we looked at the interaction between hypoxic and almitrine-induced vasoconstriction in isolated rat lungs perfused with blood at constant flow. Increases in pressure represented increases in resistance. 2. Almitrine, given in increasing doses between challenges with 2% O 2 , enhanced hypoxic vasoconstriction at low doses but attenuated it at high doses. 3. Stimulus-response curves to hypoxia of increasing severity gave a sigmoid curve. 4. Almitrine solvent caused small changes in pulmonary artery pressure and shifted the stimulus-response curve slightly in a parallel fashion. 5. Small doses of almitrine enhanced the action of mild to moderate hypoxia, medium doses attenuated moderately severe hypoxia, whereas high doses depressed vasoconstriction due to all degrees of hypoxia. 6. These effects of almitrine on hypoxic vasoconstriction were compared with the effect of solvent by analysis of variance; the results substantiated significant enhancement of hypoxia by small doses and attenuation by large doses. 7. In patients, if similar effects apply, small doses of almitrine would assist ventilation-perfusion matching, but large doses might worsen it. 8. Almitrine-induced vasoconstriction was attenuated by a fall in perfusate temperature in a similar manner to hypoxic vasoconstriction. It was also attenuated by three drugs, chlorpheniramine, propanolol and diethylcarbamazine, all of which also decrease hypoxic vasoconstriction. The similarity between hypoxic and almitrine-induced pulmonary vasoconstriction is further confirmed.