Colchicine versus prednisone in the treatment of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. A randomized prospective study. Members of the Lung Study Group

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 1998 Jul;158(1):220-5. doi: 10.1164/ajrccm.158.1.9709089.


Twenty-six symptomatic subjects with clinical evidence plus either high-resolution computed tomography (HRCT, n = 25) or open-lung biopsy (OLB, n = 1) patterns typical for idiopathic usual interstitial pneumonia (idiopathic UIP) were entered into a randomized prospective treatment trial using high-dose prednisone (n = 12) versus colchicine (n = 14). The minimum dose of prednisone used was 60 mg/d for 1 mo, tapered to 40 mg/d over the second month, tapered to 40 mg every other day during the third month, with subsequent doses adjusted as clinically indicated. The dose of colchicine was 0.6-1.2 mg/d, as tolerated. The presence of a rim of subpleural honeycomb change was present in all of the 25 subjects who had HRCT. Subjects treated with high-dose prednisone alone experienced a higher incidence of serious side effects and also exhibited a trend (not statistically significant, p = 0.391) to more rapid decline of pulmonary function and shortened survival than did those treated with colchicine alone. In most subjects with typical clinical and HRCT features of idiopathic UIP, neither prednisone nor colchicine resulted in objective improvement, and the disease continued to progress in the majority. Colchicine appears to be a safer alternative to a trial of high-dose prednisone but may be no different than no therapy.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use*
  • Colchicine / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prednisone / therapeutic use*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / drug therapy*
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Colchicine
  • Prednisone