Effectiveness of low-dose theophylline for the management of biomass-associated COPD (LODOT-BCOPD): study protocol for a randomized controlled trial

Trishul Siddharthan, Suzanne L. Pollard, Peter Jackson, Nicole M. Robertson, Adaeze C. Wosu, Nihaal Rahman, Roma Padalkar, Isaac Sekitoleko, Esther Namazzi, Patricia Alupo, John R. Hurst, Robert Kalyesubula, David Dowdy, Robert Wise, Peter J. Barnes, William Checkley, Bruce Kirenga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: COPD is a leading cause of death globally, with the majority of morbidity and mortality occurring in low- and middle-income country (LMIC) settings. While tobacco-smoke exposure is the most important risk factor for COPD in high-income settings, household air pollution from biomass smoke combustion is a leading risk factor for COPD in LMICs. Despite the high burden of biomass smoke-related COPD, few studies have evaluated the efficacy of pharmacotherapy in this context. Currently recommended inhaler-based therapy for COPD is neither available nor affordable in most resource-limited settings. Low-dose theophylline is an oral, once-a-day therapy, long used in high-income countries (HICs), which has been proposed for the management of COPD in LMICs in the absence of inhaled steroids and/or bronchodilators. The Low-dose Theophylline for the Management of Biomass-Associated COPD (LODOT-BCOPD) trial investigates the clinical efficacy and cost-effectiveness of low-dose theophylline for the management of biomass-related COPD in a low-income setting. Methods: LODOT-BCOPD is a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial to test the efficacy of low-dose theophylline in improving respiratory symptoms in 110 participants with moderate to severe COPD in Central Uganda. The inclusion criteria are as follows: (1) age 40 to 80 years, (2) full-time resident of the study area, (3) daily biomass exposure, (4) post-bronchodilator FEV1/FVC below the 5th percentile of the Global Lung Initiative mixed ethnic reference population, and (5) GOLD Grade B-D COPD. Participants will be randomly assigned to receive once daily low-dose theophylline (200 mg ER, Unicontin-E) or placebo for 52 weeks. All participants will receive education about self-management of COPD and rescue salbutamol inhalers. We will measure health status using the St. George’s Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ) and quality of life using the EuroQol-5D (EQ-5D) at baseline and every 6 months. In addition, we will assess household air pollution levels, serum inflammatory biomarkers (fibrinogen, hs-CRP), and theophylline levels at baseline, 1 month, and 6 months. The primary outcome is change in SGRQ score at 12 months. Lastly, we will assess the cost-effectiveness of the intervention by calculating quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) from the EQ-5D. Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT03984188. Registered on June 12, 2019 Trial acronym: Low-dose Theophylline for the Management of Biomass-Associated COPD (LODOT-BCOPD).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number213
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Biomass
  • COPD
  • Theophylline

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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