Azithromycin for the Treatment of Chronic Cough in Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis: A Randomized Controlled Cross-over Trial.

Guler, Sabina A.; Clarenbach, Christian; Brutsche, Martin; Hostettler, Katrin; Brill, Anne-Kathrin; Schertel, Anke; Geiser, Thomas K.; Funke-Chambour, Manuela (2021). Azithromycin for the Treatment of Chronic Cough in Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis: A Randomized Controlled Cross-over Trial. Annals of the American Thoracic Society, 18(12), pp. 2018-2026. American Thoracic Society 10.1513/AnnalsATS.202103-266OC

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Patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) frequently suffer from difficult to treat chronic cough, which substantially affects their quality of life. Azithromycin has been demonstrated to relieve chronic cough in some populations, however this has not been investigated in IPF.


To determine the safety and efficacy of azithromycin for the treatment of chronic cough in patients with IPF.


In a double-blind randomized controlled cross-over trial, patients with IPF underwent two 12-week intervention periods (azithromycin 500mg or placebo 3 times per week). The primary outcome was change in cough-related quality of life measured by the Leicester cough questionnaire (LCQ). Secondary outcomes included cough severity measured using Visual Analog Scale (VAS), health-related quality of life assessed by the St. George's Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ), and objective cough frequency using audiovisual readings from 24h respiratory polygraphy.


25 patients were randomized (23 men, 2 women), 20 patients completed the study. Mean (standard deviation, SD) age was 67 (8) years, mean (SD) forced vital capacity (FVC) was 65 (16) %-predicted, and diffusion capacity (DLCO) 43 (16) %-predicted. Mean (SD) baseline LCQ was 11.7 (3.7) and 11.3 (3.3) for the azithromycin and the placebo period, respectively, and the corresponding mean (SD) cough VAS 5.6 (2.3) and 5.8 (2.1). There was no significant change in LCQ and VAS with azithromycin or placebo. Similarly, there was no significant difference in change in polygraphy measured cough frequency between the azithromycin and placebo periods. Gastrointestinal adverse effects were more frequent with azithromycin than with placebo (diarrhea 43% vs 5%, p=0.03).


This randomized controlled trial does not support the use of low dose azithromycin for chronic cough in patients with IPF. Clinical trial registered with (NCT02173145).

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Gastro-intestinal, Liver and Lung Disorders (DMLL) > Clinic of Pneumology

UniBE Contributor:

Guler, Sabina; Brill, Anne-Kathrin; Schertel, Anke Brigitte Irja; Geiser, Thomas and Funke-Chambour, Manuela


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health




American Thoracic Society




Heidi Lobsiger

Date Deposited:

21 Jun 2021 16:08

Last Modified:

03 Dec 2021 00:11

Publisher DOI:


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