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01.12.2019 | Original research article | Ausgabe 1/2019 Open Access

Multidisciplinary Respiratory Medicine 1/2019

Efficacy and safety profile of doxofylline compared to theophylline in asthma: a meta-analysis

Multidisciplinary Respiratory Medicine > Ausgabe 1/2019
Paola Rogliani, Luigino Calzetta, Josuel Ora, Mario Cazzola, Maria Gabriella Matera
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Oral methylxanthines are effective drugs for the treatment of chronic obstructive respiratory disorders. The novel methylxanthine doxofylline, that has bronchodilator and anti-inflammatory activities, is not affected by the major drawback of theophylline. Nowadays large-scale quantitative synthesis comparing the efficacy and safety profile of doxofylline vs. theophylline in the treatment of asthma is still lacking. Therefore, we performed a quantitative synthesis to compare the efficacy/safety profile of doxofylline and theophylline in asthma.


A pairwise and network meta-analyses were performed to assess the impact of doxofylline vs. theophylline and placebo on the change in asthma events, risk of adverse events (AEs), forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1), and salbutamol use.


Data obtained from 696 asthmatic patients were extracted from 4 randomized controlled trials published between 2015 and 2018. Doxofylline was significantly (P < 0.05) more effective than theophylline in reducing the daily asthma events (mean difference − 0.14, 95%CI -0.27 – 0.00) and risk of AEs (relative risk 0.76, 95%CI 0.59–0.99). Doxofylline was as effective as theophylline in improving FEV1, and a trend of superiority (P = 0.058) was detected for doxofylline over theophylline with respect to the reduction in the use of salbutamol as rescue medication. The rank of effectiveness was doxofylline>theophylline> > placebo, and the rank of safety was placebo>doxofylline> > theophylline.


Doxofylline is an effective and safe methylxanthine for the treatment of asthma, with an efficacy/safety profile greater than that of theophylline.

Trial registration

Meta-analysis registration: CRD42019119849.
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