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A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-controlled Trial of Long-Term Doxycycline Therapy on Exacerbation Rate in Patients with Stable Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.

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Vlies, Ben H 
Law, Martin 
Burnside, Girvan 


Rationale: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) exacerbations are a major cause of morbidity and mortality, and preventing them is a key treatment target. Long-term macrolide treatment is effective at reducing exacerbations, but there is a paucity of evidence for other antibiotic classes. Objectives: To assess whether 12-month use of doxycycline reduces the exacerbation rate in people with COPD. Methods: People with moderate to very severe COPD and an exacerbation history were recruited from three UK centers and randomized to 12 months of doxycycline 100 mg once daily or placebo. The primary study outcome was the exacerbation rate per person-year. Results: A total of 222 people were randomized. Baseline mean FEV1 was 1.35 L (SD, 0.35 L), 52.5% predicted (SD, 15.9% predicted). The median number of treated exacerbations in the year before the study was 2 (SD, 1-4). A total of 71% of patients reported two or more exacerbations, and 81% were already prescribed inhaled corticosteroids at baseline. The COPD exacerbation rate did not differ between the groups (doxycycline/placebo rate ratio [RR], 0.86; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.67-1.10; P = 0.23). No difference was seen if only treated exacerbations or hospitalizations were considered. In preplanned subgroup analysis, doxycycline appeared to better reduce the exacerbation rate among people with severe COPD (RR, 0.36; 95% CI, 0.15-0.85; P = 0.019) and in those with an eosinophil count <300 cells/μl (RR, 0.50; 95% CI, 0.29-0.84; P = 0.01). Health status measured by St. George's Respiratory Questionnaire was 5.2 points worse in the doxycycline group at 12 months (P < 0.007). Conclusions: Doxycycline did not significantly reduce the exacerbation rate, over 12 months, in participants with COPD who exacerbated regularly, but it may have benefitted those with more severe COPD or blood eosinophil counts <300 cells/μl. Clinical trial registered with (NCT02305940).



antibiotic, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, clinical trial, exacerbations, long-term, Humans, Doxycycline, Anti-Bacterial Agents, Eosinophils, Adrenal Cortex Hormones, Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive, Double-Blind Method, Disease Progression

Journal Title

Am J Respir Crit Care Med

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American Thoracic Society