Background: Recently, the addition of inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) to long-acting muscarinic antagonist (LAMA) and long-acting beta-agonist (LABA) combination therapy has been recommended for patients with COPD who have severe symptoms and a history of exacerbations because it reduces the exacerbations. In addition, a reducing effect on mortality has been shown by this treatment. However, the evidence is mainly based on one large randomized controlled trial IMPACT study, and it remains unclear whether the ICS add-on treatment is beneficial or not. Recently, a large new ETHOS trial has been performed to clarify the ICS add-on effects. Therefore, we conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to evaluate the efficacy and safety including ETHOS trial. Methods: We searched relevant randomized control trials (RCTs) and analyzed the exacerbations, quality of life (QOL), dyspnea symptom, lung function and adverse events including pneumonia and mortality, as the outcomes of interest. Results: We identified a total of 6 RCTs in ICS add-on protocol (N = 13,579). ICS/LAMA/LABA treatment (triple therapy) significantly decreased the incidence of exacerbations (rate ratio 0.73, 95% CI 0.64–0.83) and improved the QOL score and trough FEV1 compared to LAMA/LABA. In addition, triple therapy significantly improved the dyspnea score (mean difference 0.33, 95% CI 0.18–0.48) and mortality (odds ratio 0.66, 95% CI 0.50–0.87). However, triple therapy showed a significantly higher incidence of pneumonia (odds ratio 1.52, 95% CI 1.16–2.00). In the ICS-withdrawal protocol including 2 RCTs, triple therapy also showed a significantly better QOL score and higher trough FEV1 than LAMA/LABA. Concerning the trough FEV1, QOL score and dyspnea score in both protocols, the differences were less than the minimal clinically important difference. Conclusion: Triple therapy causes a higher incidence of pneumonia but is a more preferable treatment than LAMA/LABA due to the lower incidence of exacerbations, higher trough FEV1 and better QOL score. In addition, triple therapy is also superior to LABA/LAMA due to the lower mortality and better dyspnea score. However, these results should be only applied to patients with symptomatic moderate to severe COPD and a history of exacerbations. Clinical Trial Registration: PROSPERO; CRD42020191978.
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Inhaled corticosteroid