Rationale: Small studies have suggested that inhaled corticosteroids can suppress systemic inflammation in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Objectives: To determine the effect of inhaled corticosteroids with or without long-acting beta(2)-adrenergic agonist on systemic biomarkers of inflammation.
Methods: We conducted a double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial across 11 centers (n = 289 patients with FEV(1) of 47.8 +/- 16.2% of predicted) to compare the effects of inhaled fluticasone alone or in combination with salmeterol against placebo on circulating biomarkers of systemic inflammation over 4 weeks. The primary endpoint was C-reactive protein (CRP) level. Secondary molecules of interest were IL-6 and surfactant protein D (SP-D).
Measurements and main results: Neither fluticasone nor the combination of fluticasone/salmeterol had a significant effect on CRP or IL-6 levels. There was, however, a significant reduction in SP-D levels with fluticasone and fluticasone/salmeterol compared with placebo (P = 0.002). Health status also improved significantly in both the fluticasone and fluticasone/salmeterol groups compared with placebo, driven mostly by improvements in the symptom scores. Changes in the circulating SP-D levels were related to changes in health status scores. FEV(1) improved significantly only in the fluticasone/salmeterol group compared with placebo.
Conclusions: ICS in conjunction with long-acting beta(2)-adrenergic agonist do not reduce CRP or IL-6 levels in serum of patients with COPD over 4 weeks. They do, however, significantly reduce serum SP-D levels. These data suggest that these drugs reduce lung-specific but not generalized biomarkers of systemic inflammation in COPD.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00120978.