Roflumilast, a phosphodiesterase-4 inhibitor, induces phagocytic activity in Greek COPD patients

Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis. 2015 Jun 15:10:1123-8. doi: 10.2147/COPD.S83205. eCollection 2015.


Background: A new approach to the treatment of COPD includes controlling inflammation because of its important role in exacerbation of the disease. Recently, roflumilast has been added as a therapeutic option for COPD. Roflumilast is an oral phosphodiesterase-4 inhibitor that targets inflammatory cells involved in triggering exacerbations of COPD. The objective of the current study was to evaluate roflumilast for its contribution to phagocytic activity in COPD patients.

Methods: Twenty-one patients diagnosed with COPD received roflumilast once daily for 6 months in combination with fluticasone (an inhaled corticosteroid), salmeterol (a long-acting β2-agonist), and tiotropium (a long-acting muscarinic antagonist) or combinations of these agents. The main inclusion criterion was stable disease for at least the previous 30 days. Neutrophils and spirometric changes, ie, forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) and forced vital capacity (FVC), were measured in the COPD patients at indicated time points. The first sample was taken before receiving roflumilast, the second 3 months later, and the third after 6 months. Examination of defective phagocytosis was done by flow cytometry using a FagoFlowEx(®) kit. The statistical analysis was performed using Statistica software.

Results: Our results indicate that phagocytic activity was increased after 3 and 6 months of treatment when compared with baseline (P<0.001). Similarly, FVC and FEV1 were also increased during the 6-month period, but only FVC differed significantly from baseline (P<0.001).

Conclusion: Although the number of patients in this study was limited, our results indicate that roflumilast induces phagocytic activity, which improves lung function.

Keywords: COPD; phosphodiesterase-4 inhibitors; roflumilast.

Publication types

  • Clinical Study

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Administration, Oral
  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / administration & dosage
  • Adrenergic beta-2 Receptor Agonists / administration & dosage
  • Aminopyridines / administration & dosage*
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Benzamides / administration & dosage*
  • Cyclopropanes / administration & dosage
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Fluticasone / administration & dosage
  • Forced Expiratory Volume
  • Greece
  • Humans
  • Lung / drug effects*
  • Lung / enzymology
  • Lung / physiopathology
  • Muscarinic Antagonists / administration & dosage
  • Phagocytosis / drug effects*
  • Phosphodiesterase 4 Inhibitors / administration & dosage*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / diagnosis
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / drug therapy*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / enzymology
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / physiopathology
  • Recovery of Function
  • Salmeterol Xinafoate / administration & dosage
  • Spirometry
  • Time Factors
  • Tiotropium Bromide / administration & dosage
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vital Capacity


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Adrenergic beta-2 Receptor Agonists
  • Aminopyridines
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Benzamides
  • Cyclopropanes
  • Muscarinic Antagonists
  • Phosphodiesterase 4 Inhibitors
  • Roflumilast
  • Salmeterol Xinafoate
  • Fluticasone
  • Tiotropium Bromide