Appropriate drug treatment for smoking asthmatics is uncertain because most smokers with asthma are less sensitive to treatment with glucocorticoids compared with non-smokers with asthma. We hypothesized that roflumilast (Rof), a selective phosphodiesterases-4 inhibitor regarded as an add-on therapy for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, might be more effective than glucocorticoids for improving asthma in smokers. To investigate this hypothesis, we compared the therapeutic effects of dexamethasone (Dex) and Rof in a mouse model of ovalbumin-induced asthma with or without concurrent cigarette smoke (CS) exposure for 2 weeks. We found that recurrent asthma attacks increased lung tissue resistance. CS exposure in asthmatic mice decreased the central airway resistance, increased lung compliance, and attenuated airway hyper-responsiveness (AHR). CS exposure in asthmatic mice also increased the number of neutrophils and macrophages in the bronchoalveolar fluid. Treatment with Dex in asthmatic mice without CS exposure reduced airway resistance, AHR and airway eosinophilia. In asthmatic mice with CS exposure, however, Dex treatment unexpectedly increased lung tissue resistance and restored AHR that had been otherwise suppressed. Dex treatment in asthmatic mice with CS exposure inhibited eosinophilic inflammation but conversely exacerbated neutrophilic inflammation. On the other hand, treatment with Rof in asthmatic mice without CS exposure reduced airway resistance and airway eosinophilia, although the inhibitory effect of Rof on AHR was unremarkable. In asthmatic mice with CS exposure, Rof treatment did not exacerbate lung tissue resistance but modestly restored AHR, without any significant effects on airway inflammation. These results suggest that CS exposure mitigates sensitivity to both Dex and Rof. In asthmatic mice with CS exposure, Dex is still effective in reducing eosinophilic inflammation but increases lung tissue resistance, AHR and neutrophilic inflammation. Rof is ineffective in improving lung function and inflammation in asthmatic mice with CS exposure. This study did not support our initial hypothesis that Rof might be more effective than glucocorticoids for improving asthma in smokers. However, glucocorticoids may have a detrimental effect on smoking asthmatics.
Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier Ltd.