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Combined Therapy Cuts Inflammatory Cells in Pulmonary Disease

Pairing 2 existing treatments reduces bronchial inflammation in COPD

FRIDAY, March 31, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Combined treatment with salmeterol and fluticasone propionate reduces airway inflammation in current and former smokers with moderate to severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

That finding by British researchers appears in the April issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

The study included 140 COPD patients, average age 65, who received the combination treatment (67 patients) or a placebo (73 patients). The two groups were matched for demographics, smoking history, and baseline lung function.

The patients were assessed before the start of the study and again after 12 weeks of treatment. The combination therapy reduced airway inflammation by 36 percent, the study found.

"This is the first demonstration that a currently available treatment can reduce the exaggerated bronchial inflammation in COPD," researcher Dr. Neil Barnes, professor of respiratory medicine at London Chest Hospital, said in a prepared statement.

Biopsies revealed that the combination therapy significantly reduced the number of certain inflammatory cells, including leukocytes, CD8+ cells and CD4+ cells. The two-drug therapy also reduced the number of cells producing genes for certain pro-inflammatory mediators in the lung.

This reduction in airway inflammation was accompanied by improved lung function.

"The magnitude of the improvement in the standard lung function test was similar to or greater than that seen in other studies of anti-inflammatory treatments used in COPD," Barnes said.

More information

The American Medical Association has more about COPD.

SOURCE: American Thoracic Society, news release, March 31, 2006
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