Oxymetazoline is often used as a decongestant in rhinitis patients who are suffering from nasal obstruction. It is used as a nasal drop or spray solution. The effect on nasal mucosa in vitro or in vivo is well known. However, the effect of the drug on tracheal smooth muscle has rarely been explored. During administration of the drug to the nose, it might affect the trachea via inhalation. We used our preparation to test the effectiveness of oxymetazoline on isolated rat's tracheal smooth muscle. A 5 mm long portion of rat trachea was submersed in 30 ml Kreb's solution in a muscle bath at 37°C. Changes in tracheal contractility in response to the application of parasympathetic mimetic agents were measured using a transducer connected to a Pentium III computer equipped with polygraphy software. The following assessments were performed: (1) effect on tracheal smooth muscle resting tension; (2) effect on contraction caused by 10-6 M methacholine as a parasympathetic mimetic; (3) effect of oxymetazoline on electrically induced tracheal smooth muscle contractions. Addition of parasympathetic mimetics to the incubation medium caused the trachea to contract in a dose-dependent manner. Addition of oxymetazoline induced a significant relaxation response when the preparation was up to 10-4 M. At the same concentration, the drug also could inhibit EFS induced spike contraction. Oxymetazoline had negligible effect on the basal tension of trachea as the concentration increased. The degree of drug-induced tracheal contraction or relaxation was dose-dependent. The study indicated that high concentrations of oxymetazoline might actually antagonize cholinergic receptors of the trachea.
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