WEST HAVEN, CT — Does therapy with a common diabetes drug class decrease the risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease exacerbations?

That’s what a new VA study, published in the International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, sought to find out.1

VA Connecticut Healthcare System researchers and colleagues noted that thiazolidinediones (TZDs), oral antihyperglycemic medications that are selective agonists to peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma, have been shown to have potent anti-inflammatory effects in the lung.

For the cohort study, researchers collected data on all U.S. veterans with diabetes and COPD who were prescribed oral antihyperglycemic medications from Oct. 1, 2005, to Sept. 30, 2007.

Patients who had two or more prescriptions for TZDs were compared with patients who had two or more prescriptions for an alternative oral antihyperglycemic medication, with the primary outcome defined as COPD exacerbations, including those requiring either or both inpatient and outpatient treatment.

The study identified 7,887 veterans who were prescribed and 42,347 veterans who were using non-TZD oral diabetes medications. COPD exacerbations occurred in 1,258 (16%) of the TZD group and 7,789 (18%) of the non-TZD group.

In multivariable negative binomial regression, the researchers reported a significant reduction in the expected number of COPD exacerbations among patients who were exposed to TZDs with an incidence rate ratio of 0.86.

“Exposure to TZDs was associated with a small but significant reduction in risk for COPD exacerbation among diabetic patients with COPD,” study authors concluded.

1 Rinne ST, Liu CF, Feemster LC, Collins BF, Bryson CL, O’Riordan TG, Au DH. Thiazolidinediones are associated with a reduced risk of COPD exacerbations. Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis. 2015 Aug 10;10:1591-7. doi: 10.2147/COPD.S82643. eCollection 2015. PubMed PMID: 26300638; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4536761.