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Theophylline in Rhinitis

Information source: University of East Anglia
ClinicalTrials.gov processed this data on August 23, 2015
Link to the current ClinicalTrials.gov record.

Condition(s) targeted: Rhinosinusitis; Asthma; Allergic Rhinitis

Intervention: Theophylline (Intervention Group) (Drug); Placebo (Placebo Group) (Drug)

Phase: Phase 2

Status: Completed

Sponsored by: University of East Anglia

Official(s) and/or principal investigator(s):
Andrew M Wilson, Principal Investigator, Affiliation: University of East Anglia


Allergic rhinitis and asthma are common respiratory diseases, which often coexist. The prevalence of allergic rhinitis in subjects with asthma is up to 80%, and the prevalence of asthma is 3-5 times greater in subjects with rhinitis than healthy controls. The mechanisms of the allergen response in both diseases are parallel to each other, with similar mediator and cellular responses to similar allergens. These observations have led to the suggestion that both diseases are different expressions of one airway disease. We wish to evaluate the effect of low dose theophylline in patients with asthma, given its effects as subtherapeutic concentrations and the propensity to develop adverse events at higher doses.

Clinical Details

Official title: The Effect of Theophylline in Patients With Allergic Rhinitis

Study design: Allocation: Randomized, Endpoint Classification: Safety/Efficacy Study, Intervention Model: Crossover Assignment, Masking: Single Blind (Subject), Primary Purpose: Treatment

Primary outcome: Difference in total nasal symptom score

Secondary outcome:

The difference in domiciliary average total nasal symptom score

The difference in nasal peak inspiratory flow at clinic visit

The difference in domiciliary nasal peak inspiratory flow

The difference in Sino-Nasal Outcomes Test (SNOT) -22 questionnaire

Secondary Analysis

Serum theophylline concentration at the end of both placebo or active treatment periods.

Serum urea and electrolyte concentration at the both placebo or active treatment periods

Drug related adverse effects

The difference histone deacetylase activity from epithelial cells obtained from nasal scrapings.

Detailed description: The disease modifying treatments for asthma and rhinitis mirror each other. The first line therapy being the topical corticosteroids, for which there is good evidence of superiority over other therapies. They work by altering the transcription of genes involved in the inflammatory process, thereby favourably influencing the synthesis of inflammatory proteins and cytokines. They have been shown to reduce the numbers of inflammatory cells and their inflammatory action. Other disease modifying therapies such as anti-IgE antibodies improve allergic symptoms in both asthma and rhinitis. Theophylline has been used for many years as a treatment for asthma but has not been used to help patients with rhinitis. Theophylline has been considered a weak bronchodilator for many years. However relatively recently, it was shown to have anti-inflammatory effects in patients with asthma. It reduces eosinophil counts and eosinophilic cationic protein (ECP) concentration in induced sputum of asthmatic patients. The combination of low dose theophylline has greater effects on lung function and asthma severity than high dose inhaled corticosteroids. Aubier el al have shown, using a nasal allergen challenge model of rhinitis, that 3 weeks treatment with slow release oral theophylline reduced the increase in the concentration of eosinophilic cationic protein (ECP) and the percentage of eosinophils in nasal lavage following the challenge. Furthermore there was a significant reduction in nasal symptoms in those patients treated with theophylline. However theophylline has not previously been evaluated as a therapeutic option in patients with chronic rhinitis in the clinic setting. Cigarette smoking is a major cause of morbidity in patients with asthma and has been shown to be independently associated with impaired quality of life in asthmatic children. Recent evidence suggests that patients with asthma who smoke are relatively resistant to inhaled or oral corticosteroid therapy, with larger doses being required for clinical benefit. The actual mechanism for this observation is unknown however one hypothesis is that smoking has an effect on histone deacetylase. It is known that theophylline can active histone deacetylase and therefore improve the efficacy of corticosteroids. Theophylline causes significant adverse effects at high doses. Unfortunately the bronchodilator effect occurs at doses very close to those causing adverse effects. This low therapeutic index for bronchodilation means that therapeutic monitoring is required. However the anti-inflammatory effect of theophylline and the effect of theophylline on histone deacetylase activity occurs at concentrations lower therapeutic level for bronchodilation. Why have we chosen a dose of 200mg twice daily? In the study by Evans et al which compared low dose inhaled budesonide plus theophylline to high dose inhaled budesonide, greater effects with the theophylline combination were seen in terms of pulmonary function and hyperresponsiveness at serum concentrations of theophylline that were sub therapeutic (8. 7mg/ml). Anti-inflammatory effects are seen in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at theophylline concentrations that are subtherapeutic. There have been studies in patients with asthma that have shown anti-inflammatory effects at in patients with asthma at doses of 250mg twice daily and 200mg twice daily. We wish therefore to evaluate the effect of low dose theophylline in patients with asthma, given its effects as subtherapeutic concentrations and the propensity to develop adverse events at higher doses.


Minimum age: 16 Years. Maximum age: 65 Years. Gender(s): Both.


Inclusion Criteria:

- Males or females, aged between 16 and 65 years.

- Weight between 50 and 150 Kg.

- Smokers, non-smokers or ex-smoker.

- Chronic rhinosinusitis as defined as 2 or more symptoms of nasal blockage/congestion,

discharge, facial pain or reduction in smell for more than 12 weeks.

- A positive skin prick test or RAST to a perennial allergen

- Patients with a seasonal component to their symptoms can be enrolled out with the

relevant pollen season.

- Patients must be receiving intranasal corticosteroids

- Patients will be permitted to receive inhaled short and long acting beta2 agonists or

anti-cholinergic drugs, inhaled corticosteroids (up to a dose of 2mg per day BPD equivalent), oral montelukast or oral antihistamines.

- Able to provide written informed consent.

Exclusion Criteria:

- Significant medical, surgical or psychiatric disease that would affect the results of

the study in the opinion of the investigator.

- Women who are pregnant or breast feeding

- Patients with previous cardiac problems or significant renal or hepatic impairment

- Upper respiratory tract infection in the last month as defined by yellow or green

nasal discharge and increase in the usual nasal symptoms.

- Patients consuming more than the recommended amount of alcohol (14 units per week for

women and 21 units per week for men) Inhaled corticosteroids at a dose greater than 2mg beclomethasone dipropionate (BDP) equivalent or oral corticosteroids or oral zafirlukast

- Currently receiving oral theophyllines.

- Previous adverse effects to oral or intravenous theophylline.

- Currently any medication known to interact with theophylline including

- Allopurinol

- Macrolide, quinolone or isoniazid

- Fluvoxamine

- Carbamazepine, phenytoin

- Fluconazole or itraconazole

- Barbiturates

- Lithium

- Oestrogens

- Cimetidine

Locations and Contacts

University of East Anglia, Norwich, Norfolk NR47TJ, United Kingdom
Additional Information

Starting date: May 2010
Last updated: August 22, 2012

Page last updated: August 23, 2015

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