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Pulm Pharmacol Ther. 2012 Apr;25(2):178-84. doi: 10.1016/j.pupt.2012.01.003. Epub 2012 Jan 28.

Additive anti-inflammatory effects of beta 2 adrenoceptor agonists or glucocorticosteroid with roflumilast in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells.

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Respiratory Research, Gilead Sciences Inc., 199 East Blaine St., Seattle, WA 98102, USA.


The phosphodiesterase 4 inhibitor (PDE4i) roflumilast has been approved in the US and EU for treatment of GOLD stage 3 and 4 chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Inhaled β2 adrenoceptor agonist bronchodilators and anti-inflammatory glucocorticosteroids are also used as standard of care in COPD. We investigated the anti-inflammatory interaction of roflumilast in combination with long-acting β2 agonists (LABA), salmeterol or formoterol, or a glucocorticosteroid, dexamethasone, on cytokine production from LPS-stimulated human primary peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC). Salmeterol or formoterol caused a concentration-dependent inhibition of tumor necrosis factor-α (TNFα) secretion with an IC50 of 0.33 pM (C.I. 0.006-19) and 34 pM (C.I. 13-87), respectively. When roflumilast was evaluated, the addition of salmeterol (1 nM) to roflumilast caused the IC50 for roflumilast to shift from 1.8 nM (C.I. 0.8-4) to 4.1 pM (C.I.0.3-69) (p < 0.01), and maximal inhibition increased from 72.5 ± 3.2% to 90.9 ± 3.1%. Addition of formoterol to roflumilast also produced an increased TNFα inhibition more than either drug alone (p < 0.05). The inhibition of TNFα production with salmeterol was both β2 adrenoceptor- and protein kinase A-dependent. Addition of roflumilast (10 nM) in the presence of dexamethasone increased the inhibition of LPS-induced TNFα and CCL3. Roflumilast in combination with salmeterol, formoterol, or dexamethasone increased the inhibition of LPS-induced TNFα from human PBMC, in an additive manner. Addition of roflumilast to either a β2 adrenoceptor agonist or a glucocorticosteroid may provide superior anti-inflammatory activity and greater efficacy in COPD patients and be dose sparing.

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