Cyproheptadine is an effective appetite stimulant in cystic fibrosis

Pediatr Pulmonol. 2004 Aug;38(2):129-34. doi: 10.1002/ppul.20043.


Chronic pulmonary infection and intestinal malabsorption often lead to malnutrition in children and adults with cystic fibrosis (CF). Appetite stimulants, along with provision of adequate calories, may aid in overcoming nutritional deficits, allowing a better prognosis. We undertook a trial of cyproheptadine hydrochloride (CH) to determine its effectiveness as an appetite stimulant in 18 adults and children with CF. This was a 12-week, randomized, double-blind, controlled trial of CH vs. placebo. Eighteen subjects with documented CF (sweat or genetics positive), minimum age of 5 years, and ideal body weight for height <100% were entered, and 16 completed the study. Subjects were seen at baseline and every 4 weeks. Measures included baseline demographics, Shwachman score, anthropometrics (weight, height, body mass index, skin folds, and body composition by bioelectric impedance analysis), spirometry, caloric intake, days of oral (PO) and intravenous (IV) antibiotics, and a symptom and satisfaction survey. Subjects in the CH group showed significant increases in weight (mean 3.45 kg vs. 1.1 kg in the placebo group), height, BMI percentiles, ideal body weight/height, weight for age z-scores, and fat and fat-free mass. There were no changes or differences in PO or IV antibiotic use or spirometric changes. No significant side effects except transient mild sedation occurred in the CH group. Patient acceptance was good. In conclusion, CH appears to be an effective appetite stimulant with minimal side effects in children and adults with CF.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anthropometry
  • Appetite Stimulants / therapeutic use*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Cyproheptadine / therapeutic use*
  • Cystic Fibrosis / complications*
  • Cystic Fibrosis / drug therapy
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Gastrointestinal Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Malnutrition / etiology
  • Malnutrition / prevention & control*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Appetite Stimulants
  • Gastrointestinal Agents
  • Cyproheptadine