Nitrite is a physiologic nitric oxide (NO) derivative that can be bioactivated to NO. NO has been shown to attenuate airway inflammation and enhance the anti-inflammatory effect of corticosteroids in the animal model of asthma. Here, we aimed to investigate the efficacy and safety of inhaled sodium nitrite as add-on therapy with inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) in adult patients with persistent asthma.
In protocol 1, 10 asthmatic patients were administered a single dose of nebulized 15-mg sodium nitrite to assess safety, effect on lung function, and pharmacokinetics of nitrite within 120 min. In protocol 2, 20 patients were randomly assigned to a nitrite (15 mg twice daily) group or a placebo group to assess the efficacy over 12 weeks. The primary outcome was the forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV). The secondary outcomes were other lung function parameters, unplanned asthma-related visits at the emergency department (ED) or outpatient department (OPD), admission days, asthma control test (ACT), and safety.
Nebulized sodium nitrite had neither acute adverse effect nor effect on lung function test within 120 min. No blood pressure change was seen. At week 12, FEV increased in the nitrite group, whereas there was no change in the placebo group. There were 5 events of asthma exacerbation, 4 ED visits, and one unplanned OPD visit in the placebo group, but none of these was noted in the nitrite group. There was no change in ACT scores in both groups. No adverse event was reported during 12 weeks in the nitrite group. There was no change in methemoglobin levels and sputum inflammatory markers.
From our pilot trial, nebulized sodium nitrite is safe in asthmatic patients, and shows the potential to reduce asthma exacerbation compared with placebo.

Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier Ltd.