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Six Chinese herb formulas, namely, the Weijing decoction (WJ), the Maxingshigan decoction (MXSG), the Yuebijiabanxia decoction (YBBX), the Qingqihuatan decoction (QQHT), the Dingchuan decoction (DC) and the Sangbaipi decoction (SBP), are commonly used, along with routine pharmacotherapy, to manage the acute exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (AECOPD). In this study, we conducted a systematic review to summarize the efficacy of these six formulas, and we also conducted a network meta-analysis (NMA) to rank these formulas.
We searched five English databases and four Chinese databases, with dates ranging from the starting dates of these databases to December 2016. Randomized controlled trials that evaluated any of the six Chinese herb formulas combined with the use of pharmacotherapy for AECOPD were identified.
Fifty-five studies involving 4560 participants were included. The pairwise meta-analyses showed that WJ and QQHT had superior effects on the improvement of lung function (forced expiratory volume in 1 seconds; FEV1) (mean difference (MD): 0.25, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.19–0.30 and 0.34, 95%CI: 0.10–0.58). MXSG, WJ and QQHT were found to be more effective for improving arterial blood gases (PaO2 and PaCO2). In terms of effective rates, all of these formulas had additional favourable effects compared to routine pharmacotherapy. The results of the NMA analyses indicated that only MXSG showed superior add-on effects for the improvement of FEV1 (MD: 0.37, 95% credible interval (CrI): 0.03–0.72). Most of the formulas combined with routine pharmacotherapy were superior to pharmacotherapy alone for the improvement of arterial blood gases and effective rates. The ranking tests suggested that QQHT and MXSG combined with routine pharmacotherapy might be optimal options for the treatment of AECOPD.
This NMA indicated that QQHT and MXSG might be more effective treatment regimens for AECOPD. Further well-designed studies that specifically examine the direct comparisons of these formulas are needed to support our conclusions.