Oral corticosteroid therapy in cystic fibrosis patients hospitalized for pulmonary exacerbation: a pilot study

Chest. 2007 Oct;132(4):1212-8. doi: 10.1378/chest.07-0843. Epub 2007 Jul 23.


Background: We hypothesized that adding 5 days of prednisone to standard therapy for acute pulmonary exacerbations in patients with cystic fibrosis (CF) would result in a more rapid and greater increase in lung function.

Methods: CF patients with an acute pulmonary exacerbation were randomized to receive oral placebo or prednisone, 2 mg/kg/d up to 60 mg, on days 1 to 5 in addition to standard therapy. Study evaluations on days 1 to 6, 14, and 42 included spirometry, glucose measurements, sputum analysis, and symptom scores.

Results: Twelve subjects were randomized to each arm. The slope of FEV(1) between day 1 and day 6 did not differ between evaluable subjects in the prednisone vs placebo groups (52 mL/d vs 51 mL/d, respectively). Mean increase in FEV(1) percentage of predicted did not differ significantly between prednisone vs placebo groups (day 6 [mean +/- SD], 12.2 +/- 5.2% vs 8.1 +/- 10.5%; day 14, 14.7 +/- 8.8% vs 10.2 +/- 11.2%, respectively). Sputum inflammatory markers and symptom scores decreased between day 1 and day 14, but mean values did not differ between groups. Glucosuria occurred in six prednisone subjects, two of whom had hyperglycemia develop.

Conclusions: In this pilot study, addition of oral corticosteroids to standard CF pulmonary exacerbation therapy did not result in a statistically significant effect on lung function or sputum markers of inflammation. Based on a trend toward improvement in pulmonary function with prednisone therapy, we obtained information for power calculations for a definitive study: 250 randomized subjects are required to detect a four-percentage-point treatment effect in FEV(1) percentage of predicted at day 14 to discriminate between null and alternative hypotheses.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cystic Fibrosis / drug therapy*
  • Disease Progression
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Female
  • Forced Expiratory Volume
  • Glucocorticoids / administration & dosage*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pilot Projects
  • Prednisone / administration & dosage*
  • Spirometry


  • Glucocorticoids
  • Prednisone