Rationale: Previous studies have demonstrated that long-term low-dose macrolides are efficacious in cystic fibrosis (CF) and diffuse panbronchiolitis, two chronic neutrophilic airway diseases.
Aims: The aims of this study were to evaluate the efficacy and safety of low-dose neomacrolides as add-on therapy in patients with severe asthma and/or bronchiectasis and to identify predictors for therapeutic response.
Methods: In a retrospective observational cohort study, we examined 131 adult, non-CF patients with severe asthma and/or bronchiectasis, receiving low-dose neomacrolides as add-on treatment. Pulmonary function tests and symptom scores were assessed at baseline and after 3 to 8 weeks of therapy.
Results: After 3-8 weeks of treatment with low-dose neomacrolides, 108 patients were available for evaluation. In asthma patients (n = 47), pulmonary function tests and symptom scores improved significantly. Responders (≥7% forced expiratory volume in one second predicted [FEV(1)%] improvement) were older (55 vs. 47 years; p = 0.042) and had a longer duration of asthma (29 vs. 9 years; p = 0.052). In patients with bronchiectasis only (n = 61), symptom scores improved significantly. Responders (≥60% symptom score improvement) were older (61 vs. 53 years; p = 0.004), more frequently male (53% vs. 27%; p = 0.043), and there was a nonsignificant trend towards higher high-resolution CT (HRCT) score for bronchiectasis in responders (6.4 vs. 4.6; p = 0.053). In multivariate logistic regression analysis, age and male gender were independent predictors for improvement in this group.
Conclusion: The results of this retrospective study suggest that neomacrolides may be useful as an add-on therapy in patients with severe asthma and/or bronchiectasis. Older age may predict good response in patients with severe asthma, whereas older age, male gender and a higher HRCT score for bronchiectasis may predict therapeutic response in patients with bronchiectasis only. Prospective controlled trials of neomacrolides in patients with severe asthma are needed to confirm these observations.