Author(s): Grootendorst DC, Gauw SA, Verhoosel RM, Sterk PJ, Hospers JJ,
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Abstract BACKGROUND: Roflumilast is a targeted oral once-daily administered phosphodiesterase 4 (PDE4) inhibitor with clinical efficacy in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Results from in vitro studies with roflumilast indicate that it has anti-inflammatory properties that may be applicable for the treatment of COPD. METHODS: In a crossover study, 38 patients with COPD (mean (SD) age 63.1 (7.0) years, post-bronchodilator forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV(1)) 61.0 (12.6)\% predicted) received 500 microg roflumilast or placebo once daily for 4 weeks. Induced sputum samples were collected before and after 2 and 4 weeks of treatment. Differential and absolute cell counts were determined in whole sputum samples. Markers of inflammation were determined in sputum supernatants and blood. Spirometry was performed weekly. RESULTS: Roflumilast significantly reduced the absolute number of neutrophils and eosinophils/g sputum compared with placebo by 35.5\% (95\% CI 15.6\% to 50.7\%; p = 0.002) and 50.0\% (95\% CI 26.8\% to 65.8\%; p<0.001), respectively. The relative proportion of sputum neutrophils and eosinophils was not affected by treatment (p>0.05). Levels of soluble interleukin-8, neutrophil elastase, eosinophil cationic protein and alpha(2)-macroglobulin in sputum and the release of tumour necrosis factor alpha from blood cells were significantly reduced by roflumilast compared with placebo treatment (p<0.05 for all). Post-bronchodilator FEV(1) improved significantly during roflumilast compared with placebo treatment with a mean difference between treatments of 68.7 ml (95\% CI 12.9 to 124.5; p = 0.018). CONCLUSION: PDE4 inhibition by roflumilast treatment for 4 weeks reduced the number of neutrophils and eosinophils, as well as soluble markers of neutrophilic and eosinophilic inflammatory activity in induced sputum samples of patients with COPD. This anti-inflammatory effect may in part explain the concomitant improvement in post-bronchodilator FEV(1).
This article was published in Thorax
and referenced in Journal of Lung Diseases & Treatment