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      Early response to inhaled bronchodilators and corticosteroids as a predictor of 12-month treatment responder status and COPD exacerbations

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          Early treatment response markers, for example, improvement in forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV 1) and St George’s Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ) total score, may help clinicians to better manage patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). We investigated the prevalence of clinically important improvements in FEV 1 and SGRQ scores after 2-month budesonide/formoterol or formoterol treatment and whether such improvements predict subsequent improvements and exacerbation rates.


          This post hoc analysis is based on data from three double-blind, randomized studies in patients with moderate-to-very-severe COPD receiving twice-daily budesonide/formoterol or formoterol alone for 6 or 12 months. Prebronchodilator FEV 1 and SGRQ total score were measured before treatment and at 2 and 12 months; COPD exacerbation rates were measured during months 2–12. Responders were defined by ≥100 mL improvement in prebronchodilator FEV 1 and ≥4-point decrease in SGRQ total score.


          Overall, 2,331 and 1,799 patients were included in the 0–2- and 0–12-month responder analyses, respectively, and 2,360 patients in the 2–12-month exacerbation rate analysis. At 2 months, 35.1% of patients were FEV 1 responders and 44.3% were SGRQ responders. The probability of response was significantly greater with budesonide/formoterol than with formoterol or placebo for both parameters. Two-month responders had a greater chance of 12-month response than 2-month nonresponders for both FEV 1 (odds ratio, 5.57; 95% confidence interval, 4.14–7.50) and SGRQ (odds ratio, 3.87; 95% confidence interval, 2.83–5.31). Two-month response in FEV 1 ( P<0.001), but not SGRQ ( P=0.11), was associated with greater reductions in exacerbation risk.


          Early FEV 1 and SGRQ treatment responses relate to their changes at 12 months. FEV 1 response, but not SGRQ response, at 2 months predicts the risk of a future COPD exacerbation in some, but not all patients. This is potentially useful in clinical practice, although more sensitive and specific markers of favorable treatment response are required.

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          Most cited references 19

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          Effect of tiotropium on outcomes in patients with moderate chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (UPLIFT): a prespecified subgroup analysis of a randomised controlled trial.

          The beneficial effects of pharmacotherapy for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are well established. However, there are few data for treatment in the early stages of the disease. We examined the effect of tiotropium on outcomes in a large subgroup of patients with moderate COPD. The Understanding Potential Long-Term Impacts on Function with Tiotropium (UPLIFT) study was a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial undertaken in 487 centres in 37 countries. 5993 patients aged 40 years or more with COPD were randomly assigned to receive 4 years of treatment with either once daily tiotropium (18 microg; n=2987) or matching placebo (n=3006), delivered by an inhalation device. Randomisation was by computer-generated blocks of four, with stratification according to study site. In a prespecified subgroup analysis, we investigated the effects of tiotropium in patients with Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) stage II disease. Primary endpoints were the yearly rates of decline in prebronchodilator forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV(1)) and in postbronchodilator FEV(1), beginning on day 30 until completion of double-blind treatment. The analysis included all patients who had at least three measurements of pulmonary function. This study is registered with, number NCT00144339. 2739 participants (mean age 64 years [SD 9]) had GOLD stage II disease at randomisation (tiotropium, n=1384; control, n=1355), with a mean postbronchodilator FEV(1) of 1.63 L (SD 0.37; 59% of predicted value). 1218 patients in the tiotropium group and 1157 in the control group had three or more measurements of postbronchodilator pulmonary function after day 30 and were included in the analysis. The rate of decline of mean postbronchodilator FEV(1) was lower in the tiotropium group than in the control group (43 mL per year [SE 2] vs 49 mL per year [SE 2], p=0.024). For prebronchodilator pulmonary function, 1221 patients in the tiotropium group and 1158 in the control group had three or more measurements and were included in the analysis. The rate of decline of mean prebronchodilator FEV(1) did not differ between groups (35 mL per year [SE 2] vs 37 mL per year [SE 2]; p=0.38). Health status, measured with the St George's Respiratory Questionnaire, was better at all timepoints in the tiotropium group than in the control group (p
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            Maintenance therapy with budesonide and formoterol in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

            Lung function in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can be improved acutely by oral corticosteroids and bronchodilators. Whether clinical improvement can be maintained by subsequent inhaled therapy is unknown. COPD patients (n=1,022, mean prebronchodilator forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) 36% predicted) initially received formoterol (9 microg b.i.d.) and oral prednisolone (30 mg o.d.) for 2 weeks. After this time, patients were randomised to b.i.d. inhaled budesonide/formoterol 320/9 microg, budesonide 400 microg, formoterol 9 microg or placebo for 12 months. Postmedication FEV1 improved by 0.21 L and health-related quality of life using the St George's Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ) by 4.5 units after run-in. Fewer patients receiving budesonide/formoterol withdrew from the study than those receiving budesonide, formoterol or placebo. Budesonide/formoterol patients had a prolonged time to first exacerbation (254 versus 96 days) and maintained higher FEV1 (99% versus 87% of baseline), both primary variables versus placebo. They had fewer exacerbations (1.38 versus 1.80 exacerbations per patient per year), had higher prebronchodilator peak expiratory flow, and showed clinically relevant improvements in SGRQ versus placebo (-7.5 units). Budesonide/formoterol was more effective than either monocomponent in both primary variables. Budesonide/formoterol in a single inhaler (Symbicort) maintains the benefit of treatment optimisation, stabilising lung function and delaying exacerbations more effectively than either component drug alone or placebo.
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              St. George's Respiratory Questionnaire: MCID.

              The SGRQ is a disease-specific measure of health status for use in COPD. A number of methods have been used for estimating its minimum clinically important difference (MCID). These include both expert and patient preference-based estimates. Anchor-based methods have also been used. The calculated MCID from those studies was consistently around 4 units, regardless of assessment method. By contrast, the MCID calculated using distribution-based methods varied across studies and permitted no consistent estimate. All measurements of clinical significance contain sample and measurement error. They also require value judgements, if not about the calculation of the MCID itself then about the anchors used to estimate it. Under these circumstances, greater weight should be placed upon the overall body of evidence for an MCID, rather than one single method. For that reason, estimates of MCID should be used as indicative values. Methods of analysing clinical trial results should reflect this, and use appropriate statistical tests for comparison with the MCID. Treatments for COPD that produced an improvement in SGRQ of the order of 4 units in clinical trials have subsequently found wide acceptance once in clinical practice, so it seems reasonable to expect any new treatment proposed for COPD to produce an advantage over placebo that is not significantly inferior to a 4-unit difference.

                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
                25 February 2016
                : 11
                : 381-390
                [1 ]Pulmonary and Rehabilitation Research Group, University Hospital Aintree, Liverpool, UK
                [2 ]Department of Pulmonary Medicine and Tuberculosis, Gronigen Research Institute for Asthma and COPD, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Groningen, the Netherlands
                [3 ]Division of Pulmonary Diseases and Critical Care Medicine, University of Texas Health Sciences Center, School of Medicine, University of Texas, San Antonio, TX, USA
                [4 ]South Texas Veterans Health Care System, San Antonio, TX, USA
                [5 ]Division of Pulmonary Sciences and Critical Care Medicine, National Jewish Health, University of Colorado, Denver, CO, USA
                [6 ]Department of Respiratory Medicine and Allergology, University Hospital, Lund, Sweden
                [7 ]StatMind AB, Lund, Sweden
                [8 ]George Institute for Global Health, Concord Clincal School, The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Peter M Calverley, Clinical Sciences Department, Institute of Ageing and Chronic Diseases, University Hospital Aintree, Lower Lane, Liverpool, L9 7AL, UK, Tel +44 151 529 5886, Fax +44 151 529 5888, Email pmacal@
                © 2016 Calverley et al. This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited

                The full terms of this license are available at and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed.

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