ABSTRACT: Smoking is common in asthma and is associated with worse asthma control and a reduced therapeutic response to corticosteroids. The present authors hypothesised that treating smokers with asthma with low-dose theophylline added to inhaled corticosteroids would enhance steroid sensitivity and thereby improve lung function and symptoms. In a double-blind, parallel group exploratory trial, 68 asthmatic smokers were randomised to one of three treatments for 4 weeks: inhaled beclometasone (200 microg day(-1)), theophylline (400 mg day(-1)) or both treatments combined. Outcome measures included change in lung function and Asthma Control Questionnaire (ACQ) scores. At 4 weeks, theophylline added to inhaled beclometasone produced an improvement in peak expiratory flow (39.9 L min(-1), 95% confidence intervals (CI) 10.9-68.8) and ACQ score (-0.47, 95% CI -0.91- -0.04) and a borderline improvement in pre-bronchodilator forced expiratory volume in one second (mean difference 165 mL, 95% CI -13-342) relative to inhaled corticosteroid alone. Theophylline alone improved the ACQ score (-0.55, 95% CI -0.99- -0.11), but not lung function. In the present pilot study, the combination of low-dose theophylline and inhaled beclometasone produced improvements in both lung function and symptoms in a group of smokers with asthma. Larger trials are required to extend and confirm these findings.
European Respiratory Journal 03/2009; 33(5):1010-7. · 5.89 Impact Factor