Objective - To compare the effects of an orally administered corticosteroid (prednisone), an inhaled corticosteroid (flunisolide), a leukotriene-receptor antagonist (zafirlukast), an antiserotonergic drug (cyproheptadine), and a control substance on the asthmatic phenotype in cats with experimentally induced asthma. Animals - 6 cats with asthma experimentally induced by the use of Bermuda grass allergen (BGA). Procedures - A randomized, crossover design was used to assess changes in the percentage of eosinophils in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF); airway hyperresponsiveness; blood lymphocyte phenotype determined by use of flow cytometry; and serum and BALF content of BGA-specific IgE, IgG, and IgA determined by use of ELISAs. Results - Mean ± SE eosinophil percentages in BALF when cats were administered prednisone (5.0 ± 2.3%) and flunisolide (2.5 ± 1.7%) were significantly lower than for the control treatment (33.7 ± 11.1%). We did not detect significant differences in airway hyperresponsiveness or lymphocyte surface markers among treatments. Content of BGA-specific IgE in serum was significantly lower when cats were treated with prednisone (25.5 ± 5.4%), compared with values for the control treatment (63.6 ± 12.9%); no other significant differences were observed in content of BGA-specific immunoglobulins among treatments. Conclusions and clinical relevance - Orally administered and inhaled corticosteroids decreased eosinophilic inflammation in airways of cats with experimentally induced asthma. Only oral administration of prednisone decreased the content of BGA-specific IgE in serum; no other significant local or systemic immunologic effects were detected among treatments. Inhaled corticosteroids can be considered as an alternate method for decreasing airway inflammation in cats with asthma.
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