Inhaled therapeutics for prevention and treatment of pneumonia

Amar Safdar, Samuel A. Shelburne, Scott E. Evans, Burton F. Dickey

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


The lungs are the most common site of serious infection owing to their large surface area exposed to the external environment and minimum barrier defense. However, this architecture makes the lungs readily available for topical therapy. Therapeutic aerosols include those directed towards improving mucociliary clearance of pathogens, stimulation of innate resistance to microbial infection, cytokine stimulation of immune function and delivery of antibiotics. In our opinion inhaled antimicrobials are underused, especially in patients with difficult-to-treat lung infections. The use of inhaled antimicrobial therapy has become an important part of the treatment of airway infection with Pseudomonas aeruginosa in cystic fibrosis and the prevention of invasive fungal infection in patients undergoing heart and lung transplantation. Cytokine inhaled therapy has also been explored in the treatment of neoplastic and infectious disease. The choice of pulmonary drug delivery systems remains critical as air-jet and ultrasonic nebulizer may deliver sub-optimum drug concentration if not used properly. In future development of this field, we recommend an emphasis on the study of the use of aerosolized hypertonic saline solution to reduce pathogen burden in the airways of subjects infected with microbes of low virulence, stimulation of innate resistance to prevent pneumonia in immunocompromised subjects using cytokines or synthetic pathogen-associated molecular pattern analogues and more opportunities for the use of inhaled antimicrobials. These therapeutics are still in their infancy but show great promise.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)435-449
Number of pages15
JournalExpert Opinion on Drug Safety
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2009


  • Amikacin
  • Antifungal
  • Antiviral
  • Aspergillosis
  • Cancer
  • Colistin
  • Cytokine
  • Inhaled tobramycin
  • Innate immunity
  • Pneumonia
  • Pseudomonas
  • Transplantation
  • Vancomycin
  • Ventilator-associated pneumonia
  • Zygomycosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)


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