Withdrawal of dornase alfa increases ventilation inhomogeneity in children with cystic fibrosis


BACKGROUND: The lung clearance index (LCI) is increasingly used as an outcome in clinical trials of patients with mild cystic fibrosis (CF) lung disease. Yet, understanding the impact of standard CF respiratory therapy on LCI is needed. We assessed to what degree withdrawal of nebulised dornase alfa affected LCI in school-age children with CF not receiving CFTR modulators or hydrator therapy.

METHODS: A single-centre, randomised, controlled, parallel group study to determine effects of one month's withdrawal of nebulised dornase alfa (intervention) in 5-18 years old children with CF. Remaining chronic maintenance therapy stayed unchanged. Outcome measures were assessed at two visits one month apart. Primary outcome was absolute change in LCI. Secondary outcomes were FEV1, FEF25-75 and CF Questionnaire-revised (CFQ-R) respiratory symptom score. Possible harmful effects were assessed by comparing the occurrence of pulmonary exacerbations between groups.

RESULTS: Twenty-eight children (median age 10.4 [interquartile range: 7.6; 13.5] years) with CF received standard care (n = 14) or intervention (n = 14). Compared with the control group, LCI increased (worsened) 1.74 (95% confidence interval: 0.62; 2.86) during withdrawal of dornase alfa, while FEV1 (-6.8% predicted) and FEF25-75 (-13.1% predicted) decreased significantly. Change in CFQ-R respiratory symptom score and the occurrence of pulmonary exacerbations did not differ significantly between groups.

CONCLUSIONS: One month's withdrawal of dornase alfa caused increasing ventilation inhomogeneity and deteriorating FEV1 and FEF25-75 in school-age children with mild CF. Hence, adherence to dornase alfa optimally needs to be addressed when using LCI and spirometric parameters as endpoints, even in short-term clinical trials.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of cystic fibrosis : official journal of the European Cystic Fibrosis Society
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)949-956
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021


  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cystic Fibrosis/drug therapy
  • Deoxyribonuclease I/administration & dosage
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pilot Projects
  • Recombinant Proteins/administration & dosage
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


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