Rationale: An antagonist (MK-7123) of the cytokine receptor CXCR2 reduces neutrophil chemotaxis and thus may alleviate airway inflammation in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Objectives: To assess the efficacy, safety, and tolerability of three dose levels of MK-7123, compared with placebo, in patients with moderate to severe COPD.
Methods: This 6-month, double-blind study randomized patients with moderate to severe COPD (already on standard therapy) to daily MK-7123 at 10, 30, or 50 mg or placebo. The primary endpoint was change from baseline in post-bronchodilator FEV1.
Measurements and main results: A total of 616 patients (71% male; mean age, 63 yr; 45% current smokers; baseline FEV1 [SD], 1.43 L [0.45]; mean FEV1 percent predicted, 43.9%) were randomized. Only MK-7123 50 mg led to significant improvement in FEV1 over placebo (mean difference [SE], 67 ml ). Reduced sputum neutrophil count was observed among the 122 patients examined; P = 0.003 (3 mo) and P = 0.092 (6 mo) (MK-7123 50 mg vs. placebo). The stratum of current smokers, but not that of nonsmokers, showed significant improvement versus placebo in FEV1 (168 ml) and time-to-first exacerbation, and showed numerical improvement in St. George's Respiratory Questionnaire for COPD score. MK-7123 caused a dose-dependent decrease in absolute neutrophil count (ANC) and reduced inflammatory biomarkers matrix metallopeptidase-9 and myeloperoxidase in plasma and sputum; ANC lower than 1.5 × 10(9)/L led to discontinuations with higher doses of MK-7123 (18% in the MK-7123 50-mg group vs. 1% in placebo). Plasma C-reactive protein and fibrinogen increased with MK-7123 treatment. Rates of infections at 6 months were similar in all groups.
Conclusions: Treatment with MK-7123 50 mg versus placebo led to significant improvement in FEV1 in patients with COPD, suggesting clinically important antiinflammatory effects with CXCR2 antagonism, although dose-related discontinuations were observed because of ANC decreases with MK-7123. Greater response was observed in smokers versus ex-smokers. Clinical trial registered with www.clinicaltrials.gov (NCT 01006616).
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01006616.
Keywords: CXCR2 antagonist; chemokine receptor antagonist; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; neutrophils; smokers.