A medication used to treat asthma and COPD has been found to improve clinical outcomes for patients with multiple sclerosis, especially during the first year following diagnosis.
The asthma drug decreases blood levels of interleukin 12 that also promotes a type of helper T cell thought to destroy the myelin sheath in multiple sclerosis patients.
Multiple sclerosis is associated with high levels of interleukin 12, found in patients with the chronic inflammatory disease. Albuterol sulfate relaxes the airways for asthma patients and is also thought to lower levels of interleukin.
In a new study, patients given a combination of Albuterol and glatiramer acetate experienced improvement in symptoms of the disease at 6 and 12 months, compared to a group given placebo pus glatiramer. No benefit was seen at 24 months. Interleukin 12 levels declined after one year.
Asthma Drug Delays MS Relapse
Another benefit found in the two year study, that included 39 patients, was longer time before relapse of multiple sclerosis symptoms. Of the 39 patients, 3 experienced significant side effects of leg weakness, chest tightness and reaction at the site of glatiramer injection.
All of the patients received a neurological exam at the start of the study and again at six, 12, 18 and 24 months. Blood samples were also collected during the study, at three, six and 12 months. The researchers used MRI to evaluate brain response at the beginning of the study, at 12 months and again at two years.
The study authors concluded Albuterol, used to treat respiratory disorders, improves symptoms in patients with multiple sclerosis, combined with glatiramer injections, during the first year of therapy.
Arch Neurol. 2010;67:1055-1061