Oral non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug therapy for lung disease in cystic fibrosis

Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016 Apr 7;4:CD001505. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD001505.pub4.


Background: Progressive lung damage causes most deaths in cystic fibrosis. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as ibuprofen) may prevent progressive pulmonary deterioration and morbidity in cystic fibrosis.

Objectives: To assess the effectiveness of treatment with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in cystic fibrosis.

Search methods: We searched the Cochrane Cystic Fibrosis and Genetic Disorders Group Trials Register comprising references identified from comprehensive electronic database searches, hand searches of relevant journals and abstract books of conference proceedings. We contacted manufacturers of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.Latest search of the Group's Trials Register: 04 February 2016.

Selection criteria: Randomized controlled trials comparing oral non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, at any dose for at least two months, to placebo in people with cystic fibrosis.

Data collection and analysis: Two authors independently assessed trials for inclusion the review and their potential risk of bias.

Main results: The searches identified 10 trials; four are included (287 participants aged five to 39 years; maximum follow up of four years) and one is currently awaiting classification pending publication of the full trial report. Three trials compared ibuprofen to placebo (two from the same centre with some of the same participants); one trial assessed piroxicam versus placebo.The three ibuprofen trials were deemed to have good or adequate methodological quality, but used various outcomes and summary measures. Reviewers considered measures of lung function, nutritional status, radiological assessment of pulmonary involvement, intravenous antibiotic usage, hospital admissions, survival and adverse effects. Combined data from the two largest ibuprofen trials showed a significantly lower annual rate of decline for lung function, percent predicted forced expiratory volume in one second mean difference 1.32 (95% confidence interval 0.21 to 2.42); forced vital capacity mean difference 1.27 (95% confidence interval 0.26 to 2.28); forced expiratory flow (25-75%) mean difference 1.80 (95% confidence interval 0.15 to 3.45). The post-hoc analysis of data from two trials split by age showed a statistically significant slower rate of annual decline of percent predicted forced expiratory volume in one second and forced vital capacity in the ibuprofen group in younger children, mean difference 1.41% (95% confidence interval 0.03 to 2.80) and mean difference 1.32% (95% confidence interval 0.04 to 2.60) respectively. In one trial, long-term use of high-dose ibuprofen was associated with reduced intravenous antibiotic usage, improved nutritional and radiological pulmonary status. No major adverse effects were reported, but the power of the trials to identify clinically important differences in the incidence of adverse effects was low.We did not have any concerns with regards to risk of bias for the trial comparing piroxicam to placebo. However, the trial did not report many data in a form that we could analyse in this review. No data were available for the review's primary outcome of lung function; available data for hospital admissions showed no difference between the groups. No analysable data were available for any other review outcome.

Authors' conclusions: High-dose ibuprofen can slow the progression of lung disease in people with cystic fibrosis, especially in children, which suggests that strategies to modulate lung inflammation can be beneficial for people with cystic fibrosis.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / administration & dosage*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cystic Fibrosis / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Ibuprofen / administration & dosage*
  • Lung / drug effects
  • Piroxicam / administration & dosage*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Piroxicam
  • Ibuprofen