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Reduction of neutrophilic lung inflammation by inhalation of the compatible solute ectoine: a randomized trial with elderly individuals

Authors Unfried K, Krämer U, Sydlik U, Autengruber A, Bilstein A, Stolz S, Marini A, Schikowski T, Keymel S, Krutmann J

Received 15 June 2016

Accepted for publication 10 August 2016

Published 18 October 2016 Volume 2016:11(1) Pages 2573—2583

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/COPD.S115061

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Amy Norman

Peer reviewer comments 4

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Russell

Klaus Unfried,1,* Ursula Krämer,1,* Ulrich Sydlik,1 Andrea Autengruber,1 Andreas Bilstein,2 Sabine Stolz,1 Alessandra Marini,1 Tamara Schikowski,1 Stefanie Keymel,3 Jean Krutmann1

1IUF Leibniz Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, 2bitop AG, Witten, 3Department of Cardiology, Pneumology and Angiology, Medical Faculty, Heinrich-Heine-University, Düsseldorf, Germany

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Background: Compatible solutes are natural substances that are known to stabilize cellular functions. Preliminary ex vivo and in vivo studies demonstrated that the compatible solute ectoine restores natural apoptosis rates of lung neutrophils and contributes to the resolution of lung inflammation. Due to the low toxicity and known compatibility of the substance, an inhalative application as an intervention strategy for humans suffering from diseases caused by neutrophilic inflammation, like COPD, had been suggested. As a first approach to test the feasibility and efficacy of such a treatment, we performed a population-based randomized trial.
Objective: The objective of the study was to test whether the daily inhalation of the registered ectoine-containing medical device (Ectoin® inhalation solution) leads to a reduction of neutrophilic cells and interleukin-8 (IL-8) levels in the sputum of persons with mild symptoms of airway disease due to lifelong exposure to environmental air pollution.
Methods: A double-blinded placebo-controlled trial was performed to study the efficacy and safety of an ectoine-containing therapeutic. Prior to and after both inhalation periods, lung function, inflammatory parameters in sputum, serum markers, and quality-of-life parameters were determined.
Results: While the other outcomes revealed no significant effects, sputum parameters were changed by the intervention. Nitrogen oxides (nitrate and nitrite) were significantly reduced after ectoine inhalation with a mean quotient of 0.65 (95% confidence interval 0.45–0.93). Extended analyses considering period effects revealed that the percentage of neutrophils in sputum was significantly lower after ectoine inhalation than in the placebo group (P=0.035) even after the washout phase.
Conclusion: The current study is the first human trial in which the effects of inhaled ectoine on neutrophilic lung inflammation were investigated. Besides demonstrating beneficial effects on inflammatory sputum parameters, the study proves the feasibility of the therapeutic approach in an aged study group.

Keywords: osmolytes, extremolytes, molecular prevention, neutrophil apoptosis, SALIA cohort, air pollution

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