Research Article

Sustained release choline theophyllinate in nocturnal asthma.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1985; 291 doi: (Published 07 December 1985) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1985;291:1605
  1. G B Rhind,
  2. J J Connaughton,
  3. J McFie,
  4. N J Douglas,
  5. D C Flenley


    Nocturnal wheeze is common in patients with asthma, and slow release theophyllines may reduce symptoms. As theophyllines are stimulants of the central nervous system the effect of 10 days' twice daily treatment with sustained release choline theophyllinate or placebo on symptoms, overnight bronchoconstriction, nocturnal oxygen saturation, and quality of sleep were studied in a double blind crossover study in nine stable patients with nocturnal asthma (five men, four women, age range 23-64 years; forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) 0.85-3.8 1; vital capacity 1.95-6.1 1). When treated with the active drug all patients had plasma theophylline concentrations of at least 28 mmol/l (5 micrograms/ml) (peak plasma theophylline concentrations 50-144 mmol/l (9-26 micrograms/ml]. Morning FEV1 was higher when treated with sustained release choline theophyllinate (2.7 (SEM 0.3) 1) than placebo (2.1 (0.3) 1) (p less than 0.01). Both daytime and nocturnal symptoms were reduced when the patients were treated with sustained release choline theophyllinate and subjective quality of sleep was improved (p less than 0.002). When treated with the active drug, however, quality of sleep determined by electroencephalography deteriorated with an increase in wakefulness and drowsiness (p less than 0.05) and a reduction in non-rapid eye movement sleep (p less than 0.005). Treatment with choline theophyllinate had no effect on either the occurrence or the severity of transient nocturnal hypoxaemic episodes or apnoeas or hypopnoeas. In conclusion, sustained release choline theophyllinate prevents overnight bronchoconstriction, but impairs quality of sleep defined by electroencephalography.