Context: Thymosin α1 (Tα1) is considered to be a promising immunomodulatory drug and could balance immunity and tolerance in immune tolerance and autoimmunity.
Objective: To explore the efficacy of Tα1 plus routine complex treatment in patients with acute exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (AECOPD).
Methods: Eighty-four AECOPD patients were enrolled and randomized into an experimental group and a control group. All patients received the routine treatment. Additionally, the experimental group received subcutaneous injections of Tα1 while the control group received placebo. Four weeks later, the curative effect of treatment and immune function of both groups were analyzed.
Results: Partial pressures of oxygen (PaO2), PaCO2, and pulmonary function of the experimental group improved after treatment compared to that recorded prior to treatment and that observed for the control group (p < 0.01, both). The CD4(+) T cell count, serum interferon (IFN)-γ levels, and the ratios of CD4(+)/CD8(+) and IFN-γ/interleukin (IL)-4 increased in both groups (p < 0.01), while the CD8(+) T cell count and levels of IL-4, IL-8, and leukotrienes B4 (LTB4) decreased as expected (p < 0.01). Meanwhile, the above-mentioned indices of the experimental group improved significantly compared to the indices of the control group (p < 0.05 or 0.01).
Conclusions: Tα1 plus routine treatment could improve the immune function of AECOPD patients and inhibit the inflammatory reaction, thus reducing the recurrence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Keywords: Acute exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; COPD; immune function; routine treatment; thymosin α1.