Tiotropium ameliorates symptoms in patients with chronic airway mucus hypersecretion which is resistant to macrolide therapy

Intern Med. 2008;47(7):585-91. doi: 10.2169/internalmedicine.47.0568. Epub 2008 Apr 1.


Objective: Low-dose, long-term macrolide therapy has been shown to be effective for the treatment of diffuse panbronchiolitis (DPB) and similar disorders in terms of the presence of airway mucus hypersecretion such as bronchiectasis, chronic bronchitis and sinobronchial syndrome. However, there are some patients, especially advanced cases, whose volume of sputum does not decrease sufficiently with macrolide therapy. These patients suffer from copious expectoration. There is currently no effective treatment, and an effective therapy is therefore urgently required. The aim of this study was to clarify whether or not the inhalation of tiotropium improves the symptoms in these cases.

Methods: Tiotropium (18 microg/day) was administered to patients with DPB and similar disorders with airway mucus hypersecretion who did not respond to macrolide. The symptoms were evaluated by a visual analog scale (VAS) prior to and at 1 and 3 months after tiotropium administration. Radiological and pulmonary function tests were also performed to evaluate the effects of tiotropium.

Results: Thirteen patients (DPB 5, sinobronchial syndrome 5, bronchiectasis 3) were enrolled. The VAS scores were dramatically improved after the introduction of tiotropium. FEV(1) was significantly improved after 3 months of treatment with tiotropium. In contrast, the radiological findings remained unchanged.

Conclusion: Tiotropium improved the symptoms of cough, sputum and breathlessness in the macrolide-resistant cases of DPB or similar disorders. These beneficial effects might be due to the suppression of airway secretion through the anticholinergic effect of tiotropium on the submucosal gland, however, the long-term efficiency of this treatment still needs to be further assessed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Bronchitis / drug therapy*
  • Bronchitis / pathology
  • Chronic Disease
  • Drug Resistance, Microbial / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Macrolides / pharmacology
  • Macrolides / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mucus / drug effects
  • Mucus / metabolism*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Prospective Studies
  • Scopolamine Derivatives / pharmacology
  • Scopolamine Derivatives / therapeutic use*
  • Tiotropium Bromide


  • Macrolides
  • Scopolamine Derivatives
  • Tiotropium Bromide