Using salt counterions to modify β2-agonist behaviour in vivo

Aateka Patel, Sandra Dhian Rudman, Marc Brown, Robert Charles Hider, Stuart Allen Jones, Clive Peter Page

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
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There is a paucity of data describing the impact of salt counterions on the biological performance of inhaled medicines in vivo. The aim of this study was to determine if the coadministration of salt counterions influenced the tissue permeability and airway smooth muscle relaxation potential of salbutamol, formoterol, and salmeterol. The results demonstrated that only salbutamol, when formulated with an excess of the 1-hydroxy-2-naphthoate (1H2NA) counterion, exhibited a superior bronchodilator effect (p < 0.05) compared to salbutamol base. The counterions aspartate, maleate, fumarate, and 1H2NA had no effect on the ability of formoterol or salmeterol to reduce airway resistance in vivo. Studies using guinea pig tracheal sections showed that the salbutamol:1H2NA combination resulted in a significantly faster (p < 0.05) rate of tissue transport compared to salbutamol base. Furthermore, when the relaxant activity of salbutamol was assessed in vitro using electrically stimulated, superfused preparations of guinea pig trachea, the inhibition of contraction by salbutamol in the presence of 1H2NA was greater than with salbutamol base (a total inhibition of 94.13%, p < 0.05). The reason for the modification of salbutamol’s behavior upon administration with 1H2NA was assigned to ion-pair formation, which was identified using infrared spectroscopy. Ion-pair formation is known to modify a drug’s physicochemical properties, and the data from this study suggested that the choice of counterion in inhaled pharmaceutical salts should be considered carefully as it has the potential to alter drug action in vivo.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3439-3448
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular Pharmaceutics
Issue number10
Early online date29 Aug 2016
Publication statusPublished - 3 Oct 2016


  • salbutamol
  • ion-pair
  • airways
  • counterion
  • pharmaceutical salt
  • 1H2NA


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