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Theophylline as 'add-on' therapy to cetirizine in patients with chronic idiopathic urticaria. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study.

Author(s): Kalogeromitros D, Kempuraj D, Katsarou-Katsari A, Makris M, Gregoriou S, Papaliodis D, Theoharides TC

Affiliation(s): Division of Allergy, Attikon Hospital, University of Athens School of Medicine, Athens, Greece.

Publication date & source: 2006, Int Arch Allergy Immunol., 139(3):258-64. Epub 2006 Jan 30.

Publication type: Randomized Controlled Trial

BACKGROUND: Chronic urticaria is a prevalent condition associated with substantial disability. Its pathogenesis is not clearly understood and is divided into autoimmune and chronic idiopathic urticaria (CIU). We investigated if the non-specific phosphodiesterase inhibitor theophylline could provide additional benefit to the histamine-1 receptor (H-1R) antagonist cetirizine in CIU. METHODS: This was a double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel study. Patients were randomized to receive either cetirizine and theophylline (200 mg twice daily; group A, 67 subjects) or cetirizine and placebo for 6 months (group B, 67 subjects). Group A patients took theophylline for 6 more months. Response was assessed by visual analog scale (VAS) and treatment effectiveness score (TES). Blood theophylline levels were also determined at visit t=1 and t=7. RESULTS: The study was completed by 54 of the 67 patients (80.6%) in group A and 51 of the 67 patients (76.1%) in group B. The physician VAS values for group A were lower after t=3, while the patient VAS values were decreased after t=2. The physician and patient TES values in group A were statistically higher (p<0.05) at all time points except for t=1. At least 1 month of theophylline addition was necessary to obtain statistically significant benefit over cetirizine, and reducing theophylline by 50% during phase 2 did not alter this benefit. Pruritus values were reduced, but not statistically significant. CONCLUSIONS: Addition of theophylline to conventional H-1R antagonists was well tolerated without any adverse effects and provided considerable additional benefit in the management of CIU. Copyright (c) 2006 S. Karger AG, Basel.

Page last updated: 2006-11-04

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