A new study entitled “Low-dose azithromycin improves phagocytosis of bacteria by both alveolar and monocyte-derived macrophagesin chronic obstructive pulmonary disease subjects,” and published in Respirology reports azithromycin treatment improves chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) symptoms.
COPD is an obstructive lung disease where the airways become thick and inflamed, leading to progressive symptoms of shortness of breath and cough. The current treatment of COPD includes the use of glucocorticoids that, by binding to their receptors in lung airways, reduces inflammation. However, the treatment was reported inefficient in blocking disease progression and, ultimately, patients’ survival.
In this study, a team of researchers from the Lung Research Laboratory at the Hanson Institute in Adelaide, South Australia with collaborators at the Department of Thoracic Medicine at the Royal Adelaide Hospital tested a low-dose of the antibiotic azithromycin for treating COPD. They administered the antibiotic for at least three months and observed less cell death and reduced inflammation.
Dr. Sandra Hodge from the Lung Research Laboratory noted, “Treatment with glucocorticosteroids is often ineffective. Understanding the basis of ongoing inflammation is critical to the development of new treatments.”
Now, the authors propose that the anti-inflammatory effect of azithromycin presents an alternative to the persistent damage to epithelial cells in COPD patients. The findings could improve treatment outcomes in the next generation of COPD drug development.