Tiotropium is a muscarinic receptor antagonist, often referred to as an antimuscarinic or anticholinergic agent. Although it does not display selectivity for specific muscarinic receptors, on topical application it acts mainly on M3 muscarinic receptors located in the airways to produce smooth muscle relaxation, thus producing a bronchodilatory effect.
Tiotropium is a long–acting, antimuscarinic agent, which is often referred to as an anticholinergic. It has similar affinity to the subtypes of muscarinic receptors, M1 to M5. In the airways, it exhibits pharmacological effects through inhibition of M3–receptors at the smooth muscle leading to bronchodilation. The competitive and reversible nature of antagonism was shown with human and animal origin receptors and isolated organ preparations. In preclinical in vitro as well as in vivo studies prevention of methacholine–induced bronchoconstriction effects were dose–dependent and lasted longer than 24 hours. The bronchodilation following inhalation of tiotropium is predominantly a site–specific effect.
The extent of biotransformation appears to be small. This is evident from a urinary excretion of 74% of unchanged substance after an intravenous dose to young healthy volunteers. Tiotropium, an ester, is nonenzymatically cleaved to the alcohol N–methylscopine and dithienylglycolic acid, neither of which bind to muscarinic receptors. In vitro experiments with human liver microsomes and human hepatocytes suggest that a fraction of the administered dose (74% of an intravenous dose is excreted unchanged in the urine, leaving 25% for metabolism) is metabolized by cytochrome P450–dependent oxidation and subsequent glutathione conjugation to a variety of Phase II metabolites. Via inhibition studies, it is evident that CYP450 2D6 and 3A4 are involved in the metabolic pathway that is responsible for the elimination of a small part of the administered dose.
No mortality was observed at inhalation tiotropium doses up to 32.4 mg/kg in mice, 267.7 mg/kg in rats, and 0.6 mg/kg in dogs. These doses correspond to 7, 300, 120, 000, and 850 times the recommended human daily dose on a mg/m2 basis, respectively.