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Furosemide: Progress in Understanding Its Diuretic, Anti-inflammatory, and Bronchodilating Mechanism of Action, and Use in the Treatment of Respiratory Tract Diseases

Prandota, Joseph

American Journal of Therapeutics: July-August 2002 - Volume 9 - Issue 4 - p 317-328
Original Articles

Accumulated experimental and clinical data suggest that adrenocorticosteroids and/or endogenous ouabain-like substances may play an important role in the mechanism of furosemide diuretic action. It was reported that the drug is highly bound in the adrenals, lungs, kidney, spleen, and liver. In patients with liver cirrhosis, furosemide exerted a markedly decreased natriuretic effect compared with normal subjects, and the plasma levels of circulating endothelin and atrial natriuretic factor (ANF) were significantly elevated. In neonates, after administration of furosemide, the urinary excretion of endothelin-1 and aldosterone increased markedly, and it is known that endothelin may release ANF and aldosterone in a dose-dependent manner. Furosemide was used to stimulate zona glomerulosa, whereas ANF decreased the production of steroids in zona glomerulosa and fasciculata cell culture owing to stimulation by various factors. Because the concomitant use of ANF and furosemide appeared to be diuretically effective in newborns after cardiac surgery, one may suggest that furosemide competes with ANF for its effects on the adrenals. Furosemide administered by inhalation exerted a protective effect on allergic and perennial nonallergic rhinitis and was effective in preventing the postsurgical recurrence of nasal polyposis. The drug can also be used as an antiasthmatic agent. In preterm ventilator-dependent infants with chronic lung disease, aerosolized furosemide improved pulmonary function with no marked effect on diuresis. In adults and children with asthma, furosemide exerted a protective effect against bronchoconstriction induced by several indirect stimuli similar to that of disodium cromoglycate or nedocromil. Aerosolized furosemide had a preventive effect also on bronchoconstriction induced by inhaled lysine acetylsalicylate in patients with aspirin-sensitive asthma. In high-dose beclomethasone-dependent asthma, inhaled lysine acetylsalicylate and furosemide exerted a mutually potentiating antiasthmatic activity, allowing considerable sparing of the inhaled steroid. It is proposed that this effect may be explained by the corticosteroid-sparing action of lysine released from the lysine acetylsalicylate molecule because similar beneficial effects were also obtained after the concomitant use of ε-aminocaproic acid (whose chemical structure is almost the same as that of lysine) and prednisone. Furosemide exhibited an anti-inflammatory effect through inhibition of production and release of cytokines interleukin (IL)-6, IL-8, and tumor necrosis factor-α from peripheral mononuclear cells, which may have a beneficial effect on local inflamed tissue imbalance in the ratio of different cytokines, thus improving the sensitivity of target cells to endogenous glucocorticosteroids.

Department of Pediatrics, Korczak Memorial Children's Hospital, Wroclaw, Poland.

*Correspondence to: Department of Pediatrics, Korczak Memorial Children's Hospital, 64 Kasprowicza Str., 51-137 Wroclaw, Poland.

© 2002 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.