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Steroid Response in Stable Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

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▸Requests for reprints should be addressed to N. R. Anthonisen, M.D.; F2, Respiratory Investigation Unit, General Centre, Health Sciences Centre, 700 William Avenue; Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3E 0Z3 Canada.

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

© 1982 American College of PhysiciansAmerican College of Physicians

Ann Intern Med. 1982;96(1):17-21. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-96-1-17
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We compared a 2-week course of 32 mg/d methylprednisolone with placebo in a double-blind crossover trial in 46 well-characterized patients with stable chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Placebo and steroid trials were separated by 2 weeks when no tablets were given. Response was assessed by measuring forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1.0). Placebo responses were normally distributed (mean, 0.8% change in FEV1.0; range, -30% to 33%). Six patients showed a greater than 50% increase of FEV1.0 in response to steroid; a seventh showed a 36% increase and an eighth, a 29% increase. Because of these patients the group as a whole showed a significantly greater FEV1.0 after steroid than after placebo. The eight steroid responders did not differ from nonresponders in age, sex, smoking history, or duration and intensity of symptoms including wheeze. Baseline lung function and eosinophilia of blood or sputum did not differ between the two groups. Patientswho responded to steroids also responded to inhaled beta agonists: Acute bronchodilator response averaged 25% in steroid responders and 13% in nonresponders, a difference that was statistically significant although there was overlap between the two groups.





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