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Respiration. 2012;84(1):75-9. doi: 10.1159/000339404. Epub 2012 Jun 29.

Evidence of improved small airways function after azithromycin treatment in diffuse panbronchiolitis.

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Respiratory Division, University Hospital UZ Brussel, Brussels, Belgium.


A 67-year-old never-smoker was diagnosed with diffuse panbronchiolitis (DPB) and was started on 250 mg azithromycin twice weekly. Over a 16-month observation period, lung function was assessed monthly, including a dedicated small airways test, the multiple breath nitrogen washout (MBW) with indices S(cond) and S(acin) of ventilation heterogeneity at the level of the conductive and acinar air spaces, respectively. Baseline measurements indicated moderate airway obstruction, air trapping and considerable dysfunction of the small airways around the acinar entrance. Treatment resulted in excellent symptomatic improvement paralleled by marked improvements in FEV(1), FVC, RV/TLC, S(cond) and S(acin); by contrast, there were no consistent changes in FEF(75) or TL(CO). While improvements were such that S(cond) fell within normal limits after 5 months, S(acin) remained abnormal even after 16 months of treatment. This suggests a distinct acinar structural abnormality in DPB that cannot be reversed by azithromycin.

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