Exacerbations present a major clinical problem in many patients suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Roflumilast, an inhibitor of phosphodiesterase 4, has shown beneficial effects in several clinical trials and is currently widely used to prevent exacerbations in severe COPD. Roflumilast has anti-inflammatory properties that may interfere with potentially important host defense functions, including cytotoxic properties of neutrophils at sites of inflammation. Since chronic bacterial infection is prevalent in severe COPD, Pseudomonas aeruginosa being a major pathogen, we hypothesized that this drug could impair host defense against P. aeruginosa. In this study, mice were pretreated with vehicle alone or roflumilast at doses of 5 mg/kg or 10 mg/kg, followed by instillation of P. aeruginosa in the airways. Bacterial load and dissemination, as well as inflammatory markers and immune cells, present in the airways were monitored. Roflumilast increased mortality, bacterial load, and dissemination in mice infected with P. aeruginosa. In addition, roflumilast-treated mice had significantly lower numbers of neutrophils in the bronchi, but not in the lung tissue airways, compared with untreated mice. Several proinflammatory cytokines decreased in roflumilast-treated mice but in neither the neutrophil-recruiting chemokine KC nor IL-6. These findings show that roflumilast treatment impairs host defense against P. aeruginosa in the airways, which may indicate that patients suffering from chronic bacterial infection of the airways could benefit from withholding of treatment with roflumilast.
- Received September 30, 2015.
- Accepted February 9, 2016.
The work was supported by grants from the Swedish Research Council, the Swedish Heart and Lung Foundation, the Swedish Government Funds for Clinical Research (ALF), the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research, the Physiographic Society, and the foundations of Bergh and Österlund.
- Copyright © 2016 by The American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics