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      Effect of levofloxacin on neutrophilic airway inflammation in stable COPD: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial

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          Airway inflammation persists after smoking cessation in established chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), suggesting that other factors drive the airway inflammatory response.


          We tested the hypothesis that high levels of bacterial colonization are associated with increased levels of neutrophilic airway inflammation in stable COPD by examining the cross-sectional relationship between these measurements and by conducting a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of the effect of levofloxacin in patients with stable COPD.


          Patients were randomized to receive either levofloxacin 500 mg daily or placebo for 7 days and underwent sputum induction for a differential cell count and quantitative bacterial analysis at baseline and at days 7, 14, and 28.


          Sputum percentage neutrophil count correlated with airway bacterial load at baseline ( r=0.56; P=0.003). Levofloxacin reduced bacterial load compared with placebo by 4.9-fold (95% confidence interval, 1.4–25.7; P=0.02) at day 7 but had no effect at any point on any marker of neutrophilic airway inflammation. In patients with a baseline bacterial load of more than 10 6 cfu/mL, levofloxacin treatment was associated with a 26.5% (95% confidence interval, 1.8%–51.3%; P=0.04) greater reduction in the percentage neutrophil count compared with placebo at day 7. Change in percentage neutrophil count correlated significantly with baseline airway bacterial load and change in airway bacterial load.


          In stable COPD, levofloxacin treatment causes a short-term reduction in bacterial load. This is associated with a reduction in neutrophilic airway inflammation in patients with high bacterial loads. Further studies are required to investigate whether this effect is clinically advantageous.

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          Most cited references 23

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          The natural history of chronic airflow obstruction.

          A prospective epidemiological study of the early stages of the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease was performed on London working men. The findings showed that forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) falls gradually over a lifetime, but in most non-smokers and many smokers clinically significant airflow obstruction never develops. In susceptible people, however, smoking causes irreversible obstructive changes. If a susceptible smoker stops smoking he will not recover his lung function, but the average further rates of loss of FEV1 will revert to normal. Therefore, severe or fatal obstructive lung disease could be prevented by screening smokers' lung function in early middle age if those with reduced function could be induced to stop smoking. Infective processes and chronic mucus hypersecretion do not cause chronic airflow obstruction to progress more rapidly. There are thus two largely unrelated disease processes, chronic airflow obstruction and the hypersecretory disorder (including infective processes).
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            Indices of airway inflammation in induced sputum: reproducibility and validity of cell and fluid-phase measurements.

            Methods to examine sputum for indices of airway inflammation are evolving. We have examined the repeatability and the validity of an improved method to measure sputum cells and fluid-phase eosinophil cationic protein (ECP), major basic protein (MBP), eosinophil-derived neurotoxin (EDN), albumin, fibrinogen, tryptase, and interleukin-5 (IL-5). Sputum was induced with hypertonic saline twice within 6 d in 10 healthy subjects, 19 stable asthmatics, and 10 smokers with nonobstructive bronchitis. The method included the processing of freshly expectorated sputum separated from saliva, treatment with a fixed proportion of dithiothreitol 0.1% followed by Dulbecco's phosphate-buffered saline, making cytospins, and collecting the supernatant. The reproducibility of measurements, calculated by the intraclass correlation coefficient, was high for all indices measured with the exception of total cell counts and proportion of lymphocytes. Asthmatics, in comparison with healthy subjects and smokers with bronchitis, had a higher proportion of sputum eosinophils (median percent 5.2 versus 0.5 and 0.3), metachromatic cells (0.3 versus 0.07 and 0.08), ECP (1,040 micrograms/L versus 288 and 352), MBP (1,176 micrograms/L versus 304 and 160), and EDN (1,512 micrograms/L versus 448 and 272). Asthmatics differed from healthy subjects, but not from smokers with bronchitis, in the proportion of neutrophils (46.9% versus 24.1%), albumin (704 versus 288 micrograms/mL), and fibrinogen (2,080 versus 440 ng/mL). Smokers with bronchitis showed a trend for a higher neutrophil count and levels of albumin and fibrinogen than healthy subjects. The proportion of sputum eosinophils correlated positively with ECP, MBP, EDN, albumin and fibrinogen levels, and metachromatic cell counts correlated with tryptase. In asthmatics, IL-5 correlated with eosinophil counts. There was a significant negative correlation between sputum indices and expiratory flows and methacholine PC20. Thus, the methods of measuring cell and fluid phase markers in induced sputum used in this study are reproducible and valid. They can therefore be used to reliably measure these indices of airway inflammation.
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              Relationship of sputum color to nature and outpatient management of acute exacerbations of COPD.

              To stratify COPD patients presenting with an acute exacerbation on the basis of sputum color and to relate this to the isolation and viable numbers of bacteria recovered on culture. Open, longitudinal study of sputum characteristics and acute-phase proteins. Patients presenting to primary-care physicians in the United Kingdom. Patients were followed up as outpatients in specialist clinic. One hundred twenty-one patients with acute exacerbations of COPD were assessed together with a single sputum sample on the day of presentation (89 of whom produced a satisfactory sputum sample for analysis). One hundred nine patients were assessed 2 months later when they had returned to their stable clinical state. The expectoration of green, purulent sputum was taken as the primary indication for antibiotic therapy, whereas white or clear sputum was not considered representative of a bacterial episode and the need for antibiotic therapy. A positive bacterial culture was obtained from 84% of patients sputum if it was purulent on presentation compared with only 38% if it was mucoid (p < 0.0001). When restudied in the stable clinical state, the incidence of a positive bacterial culture was similar for both groups (38% and 41%, respectively). C-reactive protein concentrations were significantly raised (p < 0.0001) if the sputum was purulent (median, 4.5 mg/L; interquartile range [IQR], 6. 2 to 35.8). In the stable clinical state, sputum color improved significantly in the group who presented with purulent sputum from a median color number of 4.0 (IQR, 4.0 to 5.0) to 3.0 (IQR, 2.0 to 4. 0; p < 0.0001), and this was associated with a fall in median C-reactive protein level to 2.7 mg/L (IQR, 1.0 to 6.6; p < 0.0001). The presence of green (purulent) sputum was 94.4% sensitive and 77.0% specific for the yield of a high bacterial load and indicates a clear subset of patient episodes identified at presentation that is likely to benefit most from antibiotic therapy. All patients who produced white (mucoid) sputum during the acute exacerbation improved without antibiotic therapy, and sputum characteristics remained the same even when the patients had returned to their stable clinical state.

                Author and article information

                Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis
                Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis
                International Journal of COPD
                International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
                Dove Medical Press
                07 February 2014
                : 9
                : 179-186
                [1 ]Department of Respiratory Medicine, Croydon University Hospital, Croydon Health Services NHS Trust, London, UK
                [2 ]Department of Respiratory Medicine, Nuffield Department of Clinical Medicine, University of Oxford, Old Road Campus, Oxford, UK
                [3 ]Institute for Lung Health, NIHR Respiratory Biomedical Research Unit, Department of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Ian D Pavord, Department of Respiratory Medicine, NDM Research Building, Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford, Old Road Campus, Oxford OX3 7FZ, UK, Tel +44 1865 612897, Email ian.pavord@
                © 2014 Siva et al. This work is published by Dove Medical Press Limited, and licensed under Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License

                The full terms of the License are available at Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed.

                Original Research

                Respiratory medicine

                bacteria, antibiotics, sputum


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