Effect of 6 Months of Erythromycin Treatment on Inflammatory Cells in Induced Sputum and Exacerbations in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Zhi-Yi He, Li-Mei Ou, Jian-Quan Zhang, Jing Bai, Guang-Nan Liu, Mei-Hua Li, Jing-Min Deng, William MacNee, Xiao-Ning Zhong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is characterized by airway inflammation and is associated with acute exacerbations. Macrolide antibiotics have been shown to exhibit anti-inflammatory effects in some chronic airway inflammatory diseases. Objective: The aim of this study was to assess the effect of treatment with erythromycin on airway inflammation and health outcome in COPD patients. Methods: We conducted a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial of erythromycin for a period of 6 months. Thirty-six COPD patients were randomized to treatment with oral erythromycin (125 mg, three times/day) or placebo. The primary outcomes were neutrophil number in sputum and exacerbations. Results: Thirty-one patients completed the study. At the end of treatment, neutrophil counts in the sputum were significantly decreased in the group treated with erythromycin compared with placebo-treated patients (p = 0.005). Total cells in the sputum and neutrophil elastase in sputum supernatant were also significantly decreased in those treated with erythromycin compared with the placebo group (p = 0.021 and p = 0.024, respectively). The mean exacerbation rate was lower in the erythromycin group than in the placebo group (relative risk = 0.554, p = 0.042). Kaplan-Meier survival analysis showed that erythromycin significantly delayed the time to the first COPD exacerbation compared with placebo (p = 0.032). Conclusions: Erythromycin treatment in COPD patients can reduce airway inflammation and decrease exacerbations and may therefore be useful in the management of COPD. Copyright (C) 2010 S. Karger AG, Basel

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)445-452
Number of pages8
JournalRespiration
Volume80
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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