Denufosol: a review of studies with inhaled P2Y(2) agonists that led to Phase 3

Pulm Pharmacol Ther. 2008 Aug;21(4):600-7. doi: 10.1016/j.pupt.2007.12.003. Epub 2007 Dec 31.


Among the most promising of the new therapies being developed for the treatment of Cystic Fibrosis (CF) are those targeted at increasing mucosal hydration on the surface of the airways. One of these therapies, P2Y(2) receptor agonists, bypasses the defective CFTR chloride channel, and activates an alternative chloride channel. This activation results in an increase in airway surface epithelial hydration, and through these actions and effects on cilia beat frequency, increases mucociliary clearance. The pharmacology of P2Y(2) agonists has been confirmed in several preclinical and clinical studies. Denufosol tetrasodium is a novel second-generation, metabolically stable, selective P2Y(2) receptor agonist currently in Phase 3 clinical development. In radiolabelled deposition studies of P2Y(2) agonists in healthy non-smokers and smokers, approximately 7mg of a 40-mg nebulizer (PARI LC Star) load was deposited in the lungs. In a pharmacokinetic study in healthy volunteers, very limited systemic exposure was observed when doses of 200mg of denufosol were nebulized. Thus, it appears that high concentrations of denufosol can be achieved in the airways with very low systemic absorption. Denufosol has been generally well-tolerated in healthy volunteers and patients with CF. The most common adverse events were in the respiratory system, with cough having the highest frequency. Doses of 20-60mg have been evaluated in Phase 2 trials of up to 28 days duration, and superiority relative to placebo on FEV1 has been observed in patients with relatively normal lung function (FEV1 greater than or equal to 75% of predicted). The first Phase 3 trial is a comparison of denufosol 60mg and placebo in 350 patients with CF with FEV1 at study entry greater than or equal to 75% of predicted.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Clinical Trials, Phase I as Topic
  • Clinical Trials, Phase II as Topic
  • Cystic Fibrosis / drug therapy*
  • Deoxycytosine Nucleotides / administration & dosage*
  • Deoxycytosine Nucleotides / adverse effects
  • Deoxycytosine Nucleotides / pharmacokinetics
  • Female
  • Forced Expiratory Volume / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Polyphosphates / pharmacokinetics
  • Polyphosphates / therapeutic use
  • Purinergic P2 Receptor Agonists*
  • Receptors, Purinergic P2Y2
  • Uracil Nucleotides / pharmacokinetics
  • Uracil Nucleotides / therapeutic use
  • Uridine / administration & dosage
  • Uridine / adverse effects
  • Uridine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Uridine / pharmacokinetics


  • Deoxycytosine Nucleotides
  • P2RY2 protein, human
  • Polyphosphates
  • Purinergic P2 Receptor Agonists
  • Receptors, Purinergic P2Y2
  • Uracil Nucleotides
  • diquafosol
  • denufosol tetrasodium
  • Uridine