Powerful Powder Improves Cystic Fibrosis

Inhaled dry powder mannitol improved lung function in cystic fibrosis patients

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Cystic Fibrosis is associated with an increase of mucus production making it difficult to breathe normally. A new treatment may help improve lung function.

A new double-blind study showed the inhaled dry powder mannitol was effective in improving lung function in cystic fibrosis patients.

Mannitol was shown to be effective when used twice daily, in conjunction with normal cystic fibrosis treatments. This could give doctors an additional treatment to use for their patients.

"Consult your doctor before adding treatments to your medication."

Mannitol is a dry powder that is used to change the flow of mucus by hydrating the airways of the lungs. This allows for better removal of mucus from the body.

The study involved 318 cystic fibrosis patients and was led by Moira L. Aitken, MD, professor of pulmonary and critical care medicine at the University of Washington Medical Center. Patients were separated into groups, with one group receiving 400mg of mannitol twice a day and the other group using 50mg of mannitol twice a day for 26 weeks. Another 26 weeks after that patients were made aware of the dosage they were receiving.

Mannitol was used alongside inhaled antibiotics or recombinant human deoxyribonuclease.

Patients with the larger dose of mannitol had nearly double the improvement in lung function than patients who had the smaller dose of mannitol. Patients were tested using forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1), a simple test which measures lung capacity.

This improved lung function lasted for over 12 months. Patients using 400mg of mannitol also had fewer incidents of lung symptoms worsening than patients using 50mg of mannitol.

Each group had over 85 percent of participants follow the rules of the trial and take mannitol as requested. The study notes that Mannitol can be easily carried and used, making it convenient for cystic fibrosis patients to use.

The study concludes that mannitol could be used daily to help manage cystic fibrosis. Used alongside traditional cystic fibrosis treatment, mannitol is a safe way to improve lung function.

This study was published in the December edition of American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
December 18, 2011
Last Updated:
December 22, 2011