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Retinoic Acid Does Not Benefit Emphysema Patients

Treatment does not improve pulmonary function or quality of life

FRIDAY, Nov. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Retinoic acid treatment does not improve pulmonary function or quality of life in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and emphysema, according to the results of a study published in the November issue of Chest.

Michael D. Roth, M.D., from the University of California Los Angeles, and colleagues randomly assigned 148 patients with moderate-to-severe COPD and a primary component of emphysema to either low-dose all-trans retinoic acid (1 mg/kg/day), high-dose all-trans retinoic acid (2 mg/kg/day), or 13-cis retinoic acid (1 mg/kg/day), with a placebo control within each group. After six months, placebo patients were crossed over to drug and drug patients were crossed over to placebo within each group for three months.

After the initial six months, there were no improvements in pulmonary function, health-related quality of life, or CT density mask score with any of the treatments. However, in the high-dose all-trans retinoic acid group, the researchers found time-dependent changes in the diffusing capacity of the lung for carbon monoxide and the St. George Respiratory Questionnaire, and five of 25 patients had delayed improvements in their CT scores. The changes correlated with plasma drug levels, the report indicates.

"No definitive clinical benefits related to the administration of retinoids were observed in this feasibility study," Roth and colleagues conclude.

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