INTRODUCTION: In patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), small airway dysfunction (SAD) is a key element and a functional consequence of the pathology. The exact role of SAD as a specific 'pharmacological target' represents an important research topic. Our objective was to ascertain whether an extra-fine formulation of beclomethasone dipropionate/formoterol fumarate (BDP/FF) NEXThaler 100/6mug b.i.d. could improve SAD and, consequently, the quality of life of COPD patients.METHODS: We enrolled COPD patients with severe airflow obstruction and at least one moderate exacerbation in the previous year, having started treatment with BDP/FF NEXThaler for no more than 1 week. Patients underwent three visits: at the start of the treatment (V1), 6 weeks (V2), and 12weeks later (V3). At each visit, we evaluated the fall in resistance from 5 to 20Hz (R5-R20) and residual volume/total lung capacity (RV/TLC) ratio by impulse oscillometry, spirometry, and plethysmography. The COPD Assessment Test (CAT) and the modified Medical Research Council (mMRC) questionnaire were also administered to assess the disease's impact on quality of life.RESULTS: We enrolled 43 COPD patients (mean age 69years, FEV1 43%). R5-R20 significantly changed from baseline [0.23±0.09kPa/(l/s)] to V2 [0.16±0.09kPa/(l/s)] and V3 [0.16±0.08kPa/(l/s)] (p<0.05). Clinical status was also significantly improved compared to baseline; in fact, CAT score changed from an average baseline value of 13-6 and 4 (V2 and V3, respectively) (p<0.05). A correlation was found between CAT percentage change values and the corresponding ones of R5-R20 (r=- 0.329, p=0.045) and RV/TLC (r=0.354, p=0.029).CONCLUSIONS: In COPD patients, treatment with BDP/FF extra-fine formulation improved functional parameters related to small airway disease as well as the disease impact on health status.TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov identifier, NCT04421742.
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