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Concept: Upper respiratory tract infection


Objectives To assess the overall effect of vitamin D supplementation on risk of acute respiratory tract infection, and to identify factors modifying this effect.Design Systematic review and meta-analysis of individual participant data (IPD) from randomised controlled trials.Data sources Medline, Embase, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Web of Science,, and the International Standard Randomised Controlled Trials Number registry from inception to December 2015.Eligibility criteria for study selection Randomised, double blind, placebo controlled trials of supplementation with vitamin D3 or vitamin D2 of any duration were eligible for inclusion if they had been approved by a research ethics committee and if data on incidence of acute respiratory tract infection were collected prospectively and prespecified as an efficacy outcome.Results 25 eligible randomised controlled trials (total 11 321 participants, aged 0 to 95 years) were identified. IPD were obtained for 10 933 (96.6%) participants. Vitamin D supplementation reduced the risk of acute respiratory tract infection among all participants (adjusted odds ratio 0.88, 95% confidence interval 0.81 to 0.96; P for heterogeneity <0.001). In subgroup analysis, protective effects were seen in those receiving daily or weekly vitamin D without additional bolus doses (adjusted odds ratio 0.81, 0.72 to 0.91) but not in those receiving one or more bolus doses (adjusted odds ratio 0.97, 0.86 to 1.10; P for interaction=0.05). Among those receiving daily or weekly vitamin D, protective effects were stronger in those with baseline 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels <25 nmol/L (adjusted odds ratio 0.30, 0.17 to 0.53) than in those with baseline 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels ≥25 nmol/L (adjusted odds ratio 0.75, 0.60 to 0.95; P for interaction=0.006). Vitamin D did not influence the proportion of participants experiencing at least one serious adverse event (adjusted odds ratio 0.98, 0.80 to 1.20, P=0.83). The body of evidence contributing to these analyses was assessed as being of high quality.Conclusions Vitamin D supplementation was safe and it protected against acute respiratory tract infection overall. Patients who were very vitamin D deficient and those not receiving bolus doses experienced the most benefit.Systematic review registration PROSPERO CRD42014013953.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Upper respiratory tract infection, Adverse event, Odds ratio, Medical statistics, Randomized controlled trial, Clinical trial, Vitamin D


Objective To determine the frequency of prescriptions for short term use of oral corticosteroids, and adverse events (sepsis, venous thromboembolism, fractures) associated with their use.Design Retrospective cohort study and self controlled case series.Setting Nationwide dataset of private insurance claims.Participants Adults aged 18 to 64 years who were continuously enrolled from 2012 to 2014.Main outcome measures Rates of short term use of oral corticosteroids defined as less than 30 days duration. Incidence rates of adverse events in corticosteroid users and non-users. Incidence rate ratios for adverse events within 30 day and 31-90 day risk periods after drug initiation.Results Of 1 548 945 adults, 327 452 (21.1%) received at least one outpatient prescription for short term use of oral corticosteroids over the three year period. Use was more frequent among older patients, women, and white adults, with significant regional variation (all P<0.001). The most common indications for use were upper respiratory tract infections, spinal conditions, and allergies. Prescriptions were provided by a diverse range of specialties. Within 30 days of drug initiation, there was an increase in rates of sepsis (incidence rate ratio 5.30, 95% confidence interval 3.80 to 7.41), venous thromboembolism (3.33, 2.78 to 3.99), and fracture (1.87, 1.69 to 2.07), which diminished over the subsequent 31-90 days. The increased risk persisted at prednisone equivalent doses of less than 20 mg/day (incidence rate ratio 4.02 for sepsis, 3.61 for venous thromboembolism, and 1.83 for fracture; all P<0.001).Conclusion One in five American adults in a commercially insured plan were given prescriptions for short term use of oral corticosteroids during a three year period, with an associated increased risk of adverse events.

Concepts: Clinical trial, Corticosteroid, Asthma, Epidemiology, Upper respiratory tract, Time, Upper respiratory tract infection, Respiratory system


Background The treatment of relapsed chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) has resulted in few durable remissions. Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (BTK), an essential component of B-cell-receptor signaling, mediates interactions with the tumor microenvironment and promotes the survival and proliferation of CLL cells. Methods We conducted a phase 1b-2 multicenter study to assess the safety, efficacy, pharmacokinetics, and pharmacodynamics of ibrutinib (PCI-32765), a first-in-class, oral covalent inhibitor of BTK designed for treatment of B-cell cancers, in patients with relapsed or refractory CLL or small lymphocytic lymphoma. A total of 85 patients, the majority of whom were considered to have high-risk disease, received ibrutinib orally once daily; 51 received 420 mg, and 34 received 840 mg. Results Toxic effects were predominantly grade 1 or 2 and included transient diarrhea, fatigue, and upper respiratory tract infection; thus, patients could receive extended treatment with minimal hematologic toxic effects. The overall response rate was the same in the group that received 420 mg and the group that received 840 mg (71%), and an additional 20% and 15% of patients in the respective groups had a partial response with lymphocytosis. The response was independent of clinical and genomic risk factors present before treatment, including advanced-stage disease, the number of previous therapies, and the 17p13.1 deletion. At 26 months, the estimated progression-free survival rate was 75% and the rate of overall survival was 83%. Conclusions Ibrutinib was associated with a high frequency of durable remissions in patients with relapsed or refractory CLL and small lymphocytic lymphoma, including patients with high-risk genetic lesions. (Funded by Pharmacyclics and others; number, NCT01105247 .).

Concepts: Hematology, B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia, Lymphoma, Upper respiratory tract infection, Respiratory system, Blood disorders, Cancer, Leukemia


Background An evolving understanding of the immunopathogenesis of multiple sclerosis suggests that depleting B cells could be useful for treatment. We studied ocrelizumab, a humanized monoclonal antibody that selectively depletes CD20-expressing B cells, in the primary progressive form of the disease. Methods In this phase 3 trial, we randomly assigned 732 patients with primary progressive multiple sclerosis in a 2:1 ratio to receive intravenous ocrelizumab (600 mg) or placebo every 24 weeks for at least 120 weeks and until a prespecified number of confirmed disability progression events had occurred. The primary end point was the percentage of patients with disability progression confirmed at 12 weeks in a time-to-event analysis. Results The percentage of patients with 12-week confirmed disability progression was 32.9% with ocrelizumab versus 39.3% with placebo (hazard ratio, 0.76; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.59 to 0.98; P=0.03). The percentage of patients with 24-week confirmed disability progression was 29.6% with ocrelizumab versus 35.7% with placebo (hazard ratio, 0.75; 95% CI, 0.58 to 0.98; P=0.04). By week 120, performance on the timed 25-foot walk worsened by 38.9% with ocrelizumab versus 55.1% with placebo (P=0.04); the total volume of brain lesions on T2-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) decreased by 3.4% with ocrelizumab and increased by 7.4% with placebo (P<0.001); and the percentage of brain-volume loss was 0.90% with ocrelizumab versus 1.09% with placebo (P=0.02). There was no significant difference in the change in the Physical Component Summary score of the 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey. Infusion-related reactions, upper respiratory tract infections, and oral herpes infections were more frequent with ocrelizumab than with placebo. Neoplasms occurred in 2.3% of patients who received ocrelizumab and in 0.8% of patients who received placebo; there was no clinically significant difference between groups in the rates of serious adverse events and serious infections. Conclusions Among patients with primary progressive multiple sclerosis, ocrelizumab was associated with lower rates of clinical and MRI progression than placebo. Extended observation is required to determine the long-term safety and efficacy of ocrelizumab. (Funded by F. Hoffmann-La Roche; ORATORIO number, NCT01194570 .).

Concepts: Hoffmann–La Roche, Upper respiratory tract, Monoclonal antibodies, Upper respiratory tract infection, Clinical trial, Respiratory system, Multiple sclerosis, Magnetic resonance imaging


Echinacea is a common botanical used in dietary supplements, primarily to treat upper respiratory tract infections and to support immune function. There are currently thought to be nine species in the genus Echinacea. Due to very low molecular divergence among sister species, traditional DNA barcoding has not been successful for differentiation of Echinacea species. Here, we present the use of full chloroplast genomes to distinguish between all 9 reported species. Total DNA was extracted from specimens stored at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, which had been collected from the wild with species identification documented by experts in the field. We used Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) and CLC Genomics Workbench to assemble complete chloroplast genomes for all nine species. Full chloroplasts unambiguously differentiated all nine species, compared with the very few single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) available with core DNA barcoding markers. SNPs for any two Echinacea chloroplast genomes ranged from 181 to 910, and provided robust data for unambiguous species delimitation. Implications for DNA-based species identification assays derived from chloroplast genome sequences are discussed in light of product safety, adulteration and quality issues.

Concepts: Upper respiratory tract infection, Species, Respiratory system, Molecular biology, Gene, Chloroplast, Bioinformatics, DNA


The present study was initiated to investigate the effectiveness, safety and tolerability of complex homeopathic CalSuli-4-02 tablets on prevention of recurrent acute upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs) in children, in comparison to another complex homeopathic product.

Concepts: Clinical research, Pharmaceutical industry, Lower respiratory tract, Pharmacology, Upper respiratory tract, Upper respiratory tract infection, Clinical trial, Respiratory system


Background New treatments have improved outcomes for patients with relapsed chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), but complete remissions remain uncommon. Venetoclax has a distinct mechanism of action; it targets BCL2, a protein central to the survival of CLL cells. Methods We conducted a phase 1 dose-escalation study of daily oral venetoclax in patients with relapsed or refractory CLL or small lymphocytic lymphoma (SLL) to assess safety, pharmacokinetic profile, and efficacy. In the dose-escalation phase, 56 patients received active treatment in one of eight dose groups that ranged from 150 to 1200 mg per day. In an expansion cohort, 60 additional patients were treated with a weekly stepwise ramp-up in doses as high as 400 mg per day. Results The majority of the study patients had received multiple previous treatments, and 89% had poor prognostic clinical or genetic features. Venetoclax was active at all dose levels. Clinical tumor lysis syndrome occurred in 3 of 56 patients in the dose-escalation cohort, with one death. After adjustments to the dose-escalation schedule, clinical tumor lysis syndrome did not occur in any of the 60 patients in the expansion cohort. Other toxic effects included mild diarrhea (in 52% of the patients), upper respiratory tract infection (in 48%), nausea (in 47%), and grade 3 or 4 neutropenia (in 41%). A maximum tolerated dose was not identified. Among the 116 patients who received venetoclax, 92 (79%) had a response. Response rates ranged from 71 to 79% among patients in subgroups with an adverse prognosis, including those with resistance to fludarabine, those with chromosome 17p deletions (deletion 17p CLL), and those with unmutated IGHV. Complete remissions occurred in 20% of the patients, including 5% who had no minimal residual disease on flow cytometry. The 15-month progression-free survival estimate for the 400-mg dose groups was 69%. Conclusions Selective targeting of BCL2 with venetoclax had a manageable safety profile and induced substantial responses in patients with relapsed CLL or SLL, including those with poor prognostic features. (Funded by AbbVie and Genentech; number, NCT01328626 .).

Concepts: Upper respiratory tract, Hematology, Blood disorders, B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia, Oncology, Upper respiratory tract infection, Respiratory system, Leukemia


To compare the effects of a single nocturnal dose of 3 honey products (eucalyptus honey, citrus honey, or labiatae honey) to placebo (silan date extract) on nocturnal cough and difficulty sleeping associated with childhood upper respiratory tract infections (URIs).

Concepts: Diurnality, Hypnotic, Circadian rhythm, Sleep disorder, Lower respiratory tract, Upper respiratory tract, Upper respiratory tract infection, Respiratory system


Cough is a frequent symptom associated to upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs) and, although being self-limiting, it might deeply affect the quality of life. Homeopathic products are often employed by patients to treat cough, but the evidence on their efficacy is scarce. Thus, we tested the efficacy of an homeopathic syrup in treating cough arising from URTIs with a randomized, double blind, placebo controlled clinical trial. Patients were treated with either the homeopathic syrup or a placebo for a week, and recorded cough severity in a diary by means of a verbal category-descriptive score for two weeks. Sputum viscosity was assessed with a viscosimeter before and after 4 days of treatment; patients were also asked to provide a subjective evaluation of viscosity. Eighty patients were randomized to receive placebo (n=40) or the homeopathic syrup (n=40). All patients completed the study. In each group cough scores decreased over time, however, after 4 and 7 days of treatment, cough severity was significantly lower in the homeopathic group than in the placebo one (P<0.001 and P=0.023, respectively). Sputum was collected from 53 patients: in both groups its viscosity significantly decreased after 4 days of treatment (P<0.001); however, viscosity was significantly lower in the homeopathic group (P=0.018). Instead, the subjective evaluation did not significantly differ between the two groups (P=0.059). No adverse events related to any treatment were reported. We concluded that the homeopathic syrup employed in the study was able to effectively reduce cough severity and sputum viscosity, thereby representing a valid remedy for the management of acute cough induced by URTIs.

Concepts: Lower respiratory tract, Homeopathy, Randomized controlled trial, Upper respiratory tract, Upper respiratory tract infection, Respiratory system, Clinical trial, Placebo


Many respiratory tract infections are treated with macrolide antibiotics. Regulatory agencies warn that these antibiotics increase the risk of ventricular arrhythmia. We examined the 30-day risk of ventricular arrhythmia and all-cause mortality associated with macrolide antibiotics relative to nonmacrolide antibiotics.

Concepts: Respiratory tract, Upper respiratory tract infection, Respiratory system, Macrolide, Antibiotics, Erythromycin