BackgroundPulmonary cachexia is common in advanced chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), culminating in exercise intolerance and a poor prognosis. Ghrelin is a novel growth hormone (GH)-releasing peptide with GH-independent effects. The efficacy and safety of adding ghrelin to pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) in cachectic COPD patients were investigated.
Methodology/principal findingsIn a multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, 33 cachectic COPD patients were randomly assigned PR with intravenous ghrelin (2 µg/kg) or placebo twice daily for 3 weeks in hospital. The primary outcomes were changes in 6-min walk distance (6-MWD) and the St. George Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ) score. Secondary outcomes included changes in the Medical Research Council (MRC) scale, and respiratory muscle strength. At pre-treatment, serum GH levels were increased from baseline levels by a single dose of ghrelin (mean change, +46.5 ng/ml; between-group p<0.0001), the effect of which continued during the 3-week treatment. In the ghrelin group, the mean change from pre-treatment in 6-MWD was improved at Week 3 (+40 m, within-group p?=?0.033) and was maintained at Week 7 (+47 m, within-group p?=?0.017), although the difference between ghrelin and placebo was not significant. At Week 7, the mean changes in SGRQ symptoms (between-group p?=?0.026), in MRC (between-group p?=?0.030), and in maximal expiratory pressure (MEP; between-group p?=?0.015) were better in the ghrelin group than in the placebo group. Additionally, repeated-measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) indicated significant time course effects of ghrelin versus placebo in SGRQ symptoms (p?=?0.049) and MEP (p?=?0.021). Ghrelin treatment was well tolerated.
Conclusions/significanceIn cachectic COPD patients, with the safety profile, ghrelin administration provided improvements in symptoms and respiratory strength, despite the lack of a significant between-group difference in 6-MWD.
Trial registrationUMIN Clinical Trial Registry C000000061.