Protocol for long-term effect of pulmonary rehabilitation under nintedanib in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis

ERJ Open Res. 2021 Aug 23;7(3):00321-2021. doi: 10.1183/23120541.00321-2021. eCollection 2021 Jul.


Background: Pulmonary rehabilitation causes short-term improvement in exercise capacity, dyspnoea and health-related quality of life in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF); however, long-term maintenance of the improvement is difficult. Nintedanib, an antifibrotic drug, has been shown to delay the worsening of pulmonary function in IPF. Therefore, the concomitant use of nintedanib with pulmonary rehabilitation is anticipated to contribute to the long-term maintenance of the pulmonary rehabilitation effects. The long-term effect of pulmonary rehabilitation under nintedanib treatment in IPF (FITNESS) study is a multicenter, randomised, prospective, parallel-group, open-label trial.

Methods: The study will enrol 84 patients with IPF who have been treated with nintedanib. Patients in the pulmonary rehabilitation group will receive a programmed short-term induction pulmonary rehabilitation programme, followed by a maintenance home-based pulmonary rehabilitation programme, while patients in the control group will receive usual outpatient care. Patients in both groups will continue to receive nintedanib treatment throughout the study period. The primary end-point of the study is to compare the change in the 6-min walk distance from the baseline to 12 months between the pulmonary rehabilitation and control groups. The main secondary end-point is endurance exercise time, measured using a bicycle ergometer.

Discussion: FITNESS is the first randomised controlled study to evaluate the long-term effects of pulmonary rehabilitation in IPF treated with nintedanib. This study will address the hypothesis that concomitant use of nintedanib contributes to the maintenance of long-term effects of pulmonary rehabilitation, thus leading to a comprehensive therapeutic approach of "nintedanib and pulmonary rehabilitation" in the antifibrotic era.