Summary of findings
Description of the condition
Asthma is the most common chronic disease of childhood with a prevalence of 8% to 15% (Masoli 2004). It is a chronic inflammatory disease affecting the whole airway system, including the small airways (Hamid 1997). Daily inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) are the cornerstone of treatment of chronic asthma and in recent guidelines ICS are recommended for all patients except those with mild, intermittent symptoms (British Thoracic Society 2011; GINA 2011).
Description of the intervention
ICS reduce inflammation in the lungs by modulating the inflammatory response of the lung by binding to the glucocorticoid receptor and suppressing the expression of pro-inflammatory genes. With asthmatic inflammation occurring in all airways including the small airways, the challenge of ICS treatment has now focused mainly on targeting the small airways (Gelfand 2009; Lahzami 2008). Small-particle drugs (median diameter 1.5 µm) penetrate better in the small airways and improve total lung deposition in adults, more so when inhaled with slower inspiratory flows (Usmani 2005).
Potential adverse drug effects of ICS can be divided into local (such as oral candidiasis and hoarseness) and systemic (adrenal and growth suppression) effects. Particularly in children growth is still a major concern for parents and clinicians. Several longitudinal studies evaluating the effect of ICS on growth have shown a small decrease in growth velocity (approximately 1 to 2 cm) during the first year of treatment (Peters 2006). However, long-term follow-up studies show no change in final adult height (Brand 2001). A chronic disease such as asthma may lead to suppressed growth as children with asthma enter puberty at a later age (Brand 2001).
How the intervention might work
The most widely available ICS are beclomethasone dipropionate (BDP), budesonide and fluticasone propionate. Chlorofluorocarbon-BDP and budesonide are considered equipotent; fluticasone is considered twice as potent compared to chlorofluorocarbon-BDP and budesonide. Additionally fluticasone and hydrofluoroalkane-BDP are regarded as equipotent to ciclesonide and the recommended dosage of the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA), Global Strategy for Asthma Management and Prevention 2011 guideline, is based on this equipotency (GINA 2011). Almost all ICS are registered for twice-daily use, except for budesonide, which is also registered for once-daily use. No consistent significant or clinically relevant differences in effectiveness among available ICS have been identified (Adams 2007). One systematic review comparing ICS with small particles (HFA-BDP) with fluticasone showed no significant difference on forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV
Ciclesonide is a relatively new drug with several potential advantages over the currently used ICS. It is inhaled as a pro-drug, which is converted in the airways to an active metabolite (des-ciclesonide) and therefore with potentially less local and systemic side effects. As both ciclesonide and its active metabolite des-ciclesonide are highly protein bound (˜ 99%), this results in a low proportion of free, unbound drug in the circulation. The 100-fold greater glucocorticoid receptor binding affinity of des-ciclesonide compared to ciclesonide may be the explanation for the prolonged local anti-inflammatory action in the lung and its clinical efficacy with once-daily dosing. Because of extensive first-pass metabolism, the systemic availability of des-ciclesonide is less than 1%. For a detailed overview we refer to paper published by Dahl (Dahl 2006). Furthermore, from a pressurised metered dose inhaler (pMDI), ciclesonide consists of small particles with a volume median diameter of 1.9 µm (compared to a volume median diameter of 3.5 µm for fluticasone, 2.8 µm for budesonide and 1.9 µm for HFA-BDP) (De Vries 2009). Because of smaller particle size and lower plume velocity, ciclesonide has a better delivery to the small airways and consequently, effective asthma control could be achieved at lower daily doses.
Ciclesonide is registered for once-daily use. Mean adherence rates may decline with increased frequency of dosing and therefore a once-daily use could lead to better compliance compared to twice-daily use (Guest 2005; Osterberg 2005; Price 2010). Particularly in adolescents, adherence to treatment is a major problem. Ciclesonide has been approved in Europe for children 12 years of age and older. The drug is delivered by a metered dose inhaler (MDI) and registered for use with the AeroChamber Plus® spacer.
Why it is important to do this review
The Cochrane Airways Group decided to split the existing review entitled "Ciclesonide versus other inhaled steroids for chronic asthma" (Manning 2009) into a review restricted to children and one restricted to adults. The effect of ciclesonide compared to placebo is subject of another Cochrane review (Manning 2008).
To assess the efficacy and adverse effects of ciclesonide compared to other ICS in the management of chronic asthma in children.
Criteria for considering studies for this review
Types of studies
We included randomised controlled trials (RCT) comparing ciclesonide with another ICS. We included trials of parallel group design and cross-over trials with a wash-out period of two weeks or more. Available unpublished data were considered.
Types of participants
Children (younger than 18 years) with physician-diagnosed chronic asthma in all settings (general practice, outpatient departments, emergency departments and hospitalised) were eligible for inclusion. Trials that included children as well as adults (aged 18 years and older) were included provided that the data on children were reported separately.
Studies with participants with pulmonary diagnosis other than asthma were excluded.
Types of interventions
This review includes studies that have compared ciclesonide with other ICS at equivalent and lower doses of ciclesonide. The intervention period had to be at least four weeks. Concomitant therapies for asthma, such as short-acting beta
Types of outcome measures
- Asthma symptoms: asthma symptom score and number of days without symptoms and use of rescue medication.
- (Severe) asthma exacerbations defined as:
- hospital admission;
- visit to emergency department;
- need for additional course of corticosteroids;
- a combination of the above.
- Adverse effects: oropharyngeal candidiasis, sore throat, symptoms of hoarseness, growth, lower-leg growth, adrenal insufficiency, plasma cortisol, urinary cortisol excretion.
- Quality of life.
- Change in lung function (FEV
1, Mid expiratory flow 25-75%)
- Airway inflammation assessed by biopsy, lavage or exhaled nitric oxide (fraction of nitric oxide in exhaled air (FeNO))
Search methods for identification of studies
We identified from the Cochrane Airways Group (CAG) Specialised Register of trials, which is derived from systematic searches of bibliographic databases including the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), MEDLINE, EMBASE and CINAHL, and handsearching of respiratory journals and meeting abstracts (see Appendix 1 for further details). We searched records in the Specialised Register coded as 'asthma' using the following terms:
ciclesonide* or Alveso* or pregnenedione* or CIC
We searched the CAG trials register from June 2007 up to November 2012. Additional searches in MEDLINE and EMBASE were undertaken using the strategies in Appendix 2 for articles published more recently (2007 to 2012).
Searching other resources
Included and excluded studies of the earlier review that included adults as well as children (Manning 2009) were checked if data concerning children were reported separately. Reference lists of all primary studies and review articles were reviewed for additional references. The manufacturer of ciclesonide (ALTANA Pharma and Nycomed) and authors of identified trials were contacted and asked to identify other published and unpublished studies.
We searched www.clinicalstudyresults.org for trial reports of CIC (December 2011).
Data collection and analysis
Selection of studies
Two review authors (NB and BLR) screened the title and abstract of each citation identified for eligibility. Articles that appeared to meet the inclusion criteria were retrieved in full text. Published abstracts of trials and trials published in a language other than English were also included. Then, based on the full text of the articles, NB and BLR independently established whether each study met the inclusion criteria of the review. Disagreement was solved by discussion.
Data extraction and management
Two review authors extracted the data from the included studies independently of each other. We attempted to contact study authors to identify additional papers, confirm data for accuracy and completeness.
We extracted data concerning the following characteristics of the included studies: study design; patient characteristics such as age, gender, asthma severity, inclusion and exclusion criteria, setting; diagnosis and diagnostic criteria used; characteristics of the interventions such as ICS type, dose, duration of study, method of delivery (MDI with or without spacer, breath actuated inhaler (BAI) or dry powder inhaler (DPI)); inhalation technique (breath hold after inhalation from DPI or BAI, inhalation from spacer with single breath followed by breath hold or tidal breathing) and reported outcome measures.
Assessment of risk of bias in included studies
Risk of bias of the included studies was independently assessed by two review authors according to the recommendations of the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions (Higgins 2011). Disagreement was solved by discussion. The following items were assessed:
- adequate sequence generation;
- allocation concealment;
- blinding (patient reported/subjective outcomes: asthma symptoms, adverse effects, quality of life, compliance);
- blinding (other outcomes);
- incomplete outcome data addressed (patient reported/subjective outcomes: asthma symptoms, adverse effects, quality of life, compliance);
- incomplete outcome data addressed (other outcomes);
- free of selective reporting;
- free of other bias? (e.g. baseline differences).
Measures of treatment effect
A mean difference (MD) and 95% confidence interval (CI) was calculated for continuous variables measured on identical metrics. A standardised mean difference (SMD) was used for the continuous variables that addressed the same type of outcome, but were measured on different scales.
For dichotomous outcomes, we calculated a risk ratio (RR).
Unit of analysis issues
The unit of analysis was the patient.
Dealing with missing data
We contacted the authors of trials in which relevant data or information was missing that was needed for data synthesis and analyses.
Assessment of heterogeneity
Heterogeneity was assessed by comparing clinical characteristics of the included studies such as type of patients (age, gender, asthma severity, etc.), intervention (dose, inhalation technique, duration, etc.), comparison and outcome measures. Clinical homogeneity was discussed by the authors of this review and included experts in the field. Based on this discussion we decided whether pooling of results was sensible. Statistical heterogeneity was first assessed by visual inspection of the forest plots. We also applied the Chi
- 0% to 40%: might not be important;
- 30% to 60%: may represent moderate heterogeneity;
- 50% to 90%: may represent substantial heterogeneity;
- 75% to 100%: considerable heterogeneity.
When interpreting the results of the test for homogeneity and the I
Assessment of reporting biases
We planned to visually inspect funnel plots to assess reporting bias if we had been able to combine 10 or more trials in a forest plot.
We only considered data of clinically homogeneous studies eligible to be combined. We hypothesised that the individual studies that evaluated the effect of ciclesonide estimated a common effect and therefore we chose to combine the results using a fixed-effect model. If statistical heterogeneity was observed (Chi
Summary of findings table
We created 'Summary of findings' (SoF) tables for each comparison and primary outcomes. We used GRADE-profiler software to generate SoF tables that included the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation (GRADE) approach to assess the overall quality of evidence on relevant (primary) outcomes (asthma symptoms, exacerbations and adverse effects) (Schunemann 2011a; Schunemann 2011b). Two review authors (SK and NB) independently graded the body of evidence. According to GRADE, RCTs start as high-quality evidence. There are five reasons for downgrading the quality of a body of evidence for a specific outcome: limitations in design, indirectness of evidence, inconsistency, imprecision of results and high probability of publication bias. All these items were scored and reasons for downgrading were explicitly stated. Overall quality of evidence was graded 'high', 'moderate' or 'low' based on the likelihood of further research changing our confidence in the estimate of effect. We resolved discrepancies by consensus among two review authors (SK and NB).
Subgroup analysis and investigation of heterogeneity
We planned subgroup analyses, provided we had sufficient data, according to age (< six years and ≥ six years), asthma severity, dose of ciclesonide and delivery device (identical or different devices used for ciclesonide and BDP/budesonide/fluticasone) as well as inhalation manoeuvre.
Sensitivity analyses were planned to test the robustness of the results based on the results of the 'Risk of bias' assessment, provided we had sufficient data. We planned to repeat analyses with studies that scored a low risk of bias for allocation concealment, blinding (outcome: asthma symptoms, adverse effects, quality of life, compliance) or incomplete follow-up (outcome: asthma symptoms, adverse effects, quality of life, compliance).
Description of studies
Results of the search
Of the included and excluded studies of the existing Cochrane review of Manning 2009 three studies met our inclusion criteria (Pedersen 2006; Vermeulen 2007; von Berg 2007). The updated search yielded 296 citations and an additional search of the website www.clinicalstudyresults.org yielded 22 references. After screening of title and abstracts, the full text of 24 studies was assessed. Two reports identified by the search of www.clinicalstudy.org were reports of studies identified in the search of the databases (Agertoft 2010; Pedersen 2009). Of all identified studies, one study published in full text (Pedersen 2009) and two studies published as abstracts (Hiremath 2006; Paunovic 2010) met our inclusion criteria. Therefore, a total of six studies were included into this review. An overview of the selection process is shown in Figure 1.
|Figure 1. Study flow diagram.|
In the previous review, four of the 13 ongoing studies were identified that potentially met our inclusion criteria. To date, three studies have been completed. One study was published but did not separately describe the data of children younger than 18 years of age (Postma 2011) and one study only including adults was excluded (van den Berge 2009). One study is awaiting classification since no full reports were available of the study data (see Characteristics of studies awaiting classification table). One study originally found in the National Research Register record could not be found in the registers archives, and contact details of the author were no longer up to date (GIWA 2003). No references were found to published data of this study and therefore this study is regarded as obsolete.
To retrieve additional data we contacted all contact authors of the included studies. Two of them replied and re-directed us to the pharmaceutical companies involved. We did not get a reply from the companies on our request for additional data.
The characteristics of the six included studies are presented in the Characteristics of included studies table.
Two studies were described as randomised double-blind parallel group designs (Hiremath 2006; Paunovic 2010) and four studies as randomised double-blind double-dummy parallel group designs (Pedersen 2006; Pedersen 2009; Vermeulen 2007; von Berg 2007). All were designed as non-inferiority studies on lung function.
The six studies randomised 3256 children with asthma and included children between the age of 4 and 17 years. One study did not specify how asthma was diagnosed (von Berg 2007), whereas the other studies diagnosed asthma according to either the guidelines of the American Thoracic Society (ATS) (American Thoracic Society 1987) or the GINA 2003 classification (Pedersen 2006; Pedersen 2009; Vermeulen 2007). There was insufficient information on how asthma was diagnosed in two studies (Hiremath 2006; Paunovic 2010). The children in the fully published studies had suffered from asthma for at least six months.
In the six included studies, two different comparisons were assessed. Ciclesonide was compared to budesonide (Vermeulen 2007; von Berg 2007) or fluticasone (Hiremath 2006; Paunovic 2010; Pedersen 2006; Pedersen 2009) (see Table 1). All treatment periods were 12 weeks and outcomes were measured before and after the intervention period. The dose and delivery of the interventions varied between studies (see Table 1). Ciclesonide was delivered via MDIs in all studies.
All studies assessed our primary outcome asthma symptoms. Five studies assessed exacerbations and one study did not address this outcome at all (Hiremath 2006). None of the studies specifically defined asthma exacerbations that conformed to our definition as hospital admissions or visits to an emergency department or additional course of corticosteroids and the description of exacerbation varied between studies. Four studies defined asthma exacerbations as increasing asthma symptoms requiring change or addition of patient's medication other than increasing rescue medication (Pedersen 2006; Pedersen 2009; Vermeulen 2007; von Berg 2007) and in one of these studies the patients with exacerbations were withdrawn (Vermeulen 2007) and in two studies no definitions of exacerbations were described. One study did not report adverse events (Paunovic 2010). None of the studies reported on compliance.
The four fully published studies were all supported or sponsored by the manufacturer of ciclesonide. In all studies at least one of the authors was an employee of the manufacturer that sponsored the study.
We excluded 21 records (see Characteristics of excluded studies). Two studies were excluded because the intervention period in these studies was two weeks (Agertoft 2010; Matsunaga 2009) and, therefore, did not met our criteria of at least four weeks.
Risk of bias in included studies
The risk of bias of the included studies is summarised in Figure 2. The risk of bias was unclear for the two studies that were published as conference abstracts as no information was available to make a definite judgement on the different items (Hiremath 2006; Paunovic 2010). Our judgements for the remaining four studies that were published in full text are discussed below per item.
|Figure 2. Risk of bias summary: review authors' judgements about each risk of bias item for each included study.|
The randomisation method was clearly described and adequate in three studies (Pedersen 2006; Pedersen 2009; Vermeulen 2007). One study did not provide sufficient information (von Berg 2007). No study described allocation concealment and therefore the risk of bias for this item was deemed unclear.
The four fully published studies were described as double-blind and double-dummy. Therefore, risk of bias was assessed as low for both subjective outcomes and other outcomes (Pedersen 2006; Pedersen 2009; Vermeulen 2007; von Berg 2007).
Incomplete outcome data
Loss to follow-up was reported in all four studies. In three studies, 4% of the randomised patients did not complete the study (Pedersen 2009; Vermeulen 2007; von Berg 2007), only one study gave a clear description of the number of patients per group and the reasons for loss to follow-up (von Berg 2007). In one study, 8% of the patients randomised terminated the study prematurely. The number of patients per group was described; however, no reasons for loss to follow-up were reported (Pedersen 2006). All studies described that an intention-to-treat (ITT) analysis was performed but no details of the analyses were provided and it was not specified which values were imputed in the analyses. Therefore, risk of bias for the items regarding incomplete outcome data were deemed unclear. Two of the four studies reported the number of patients that violated the study protocol (Pedersen 2009; von Berg 2007). The percentage of patients that violated the study protocol was similar in the three different groups in the study of Pedersen 2009 (ciclesonide 80 μg = 6%; 160 μg = 7%; fluticasone 88 μg = 6%). In the study of von Berg 2007 the percentage of patients that violated the study protocol was also similar, 14% of the ITT population in both groups. Two studies did not provide detailed information on study protocol violations (Pedersen 2006; Vermeulen 2007).
Other potential sources of bias
None of the four studies showed any obvious baseline differences, therefore for all studies risk of other biases were rated low.
Effects of interventions
See: Summary of findings for the main comparison Ciclesonide versus budesonide (dose ratio 1:2) for chronic asthma in children; Summary of findings 2 Ciclesonide versus fluticasone (dose ratio 1:1) for chronic asthma in children; Summary of findings 3 Ciclesonide versus fluticasone (dose ratio 1:2) for chronic asthma in children
Ciclesonide versus budesonide
Two studies assessed the effect of ciclesonide compared to budesonide both administered once daily at dose ratios of 1:2. The dose of both ciclesonide and budesonide in one study (Vermeulen 2007) was twice the dose of the other study (von Berg 2007). Ciclesonide was delivered using a hydrofluoroalkane-propelled metered dose inhaler (HFA-MDI) with the AeroChamber® spacer in one study (von Berg 2007) and without a spacer in the other study (Vermeulen 2007). In both studies, the comparator drug, budesonide, was deliver using a Turbohaler®.
Both studies were designed to assess non-inferiority of ciclesonide versus budesonide. One study used the per protocol (PP) population to test for non-inferiority (Vermeulen 2007) and one study based the primary analysis on the PP population and used the ITT population to confirm the results (von Berg 2007). One study set non-inferiority limits for lung function outcomes (FEV
Two studies on 1024 children found no significant differences between the groups regarding the outcome asthma symptoms (symptom scores, asthma symptom and rescue medication-free days) (see Table 2). Asthma symptom scores were assessed using 5-point scales where a score of 0 represented no asthma symptoms and a score of 4 very bad symptoms, unable to carry out daily activities. One study reported asthma symptom scores as a median change from baseline, which indicates skewed data and therefore we did not perform a meta-analysis for this outcome.
Pooled data for exacerbations (as defined in the original studies) showed no significant difference between ciclesonide versus budesonide (RR 2.20, 95% CI 0.75 to 6.43; two studies; 1024 children) ( Analysis 1.1).
The occurrence of adverse effects was similar in both treatment groups in one study on 621 children. Pharyngitis was one of the most reported adverse effect (ciclesonide: 6.0%; budesonide: 6.8%) in this study (von Berg 2007). Adverse effects likely to be related to treatment were low in the study comparing ciclesonide 320 μg versus budesonide 800 μg; 0.7% and 0.8% for ciclesonide and budesonide, respectively. This study also reported treatment emergent adverse effects (including pharyngitis, asthma aggravated, nasopharyngitis, upper respiratory tract infections) that were reported in more than 2% of the patients per group in a safety population (N = 403) and found no difference between ciclesonide and budesonide (RR 1.44, 95% CI 0.96 to 2.18) (Vermeulen 2007). Pooling of data was not possible because definition of adverse effects were very different between the studies.
One study reported the outcome changes in body height after 12 weeks of intervention. The measurements were taken only in some centres and selection criteria and procedures of the subgroup of patients was not described. Height was measured by stadiometry in 58 patients of the ciclesonide 160 μg group and 26 in the budesonide 400 μg group. The study reported that the increase in height was significantly bigger in the ciclesonide compared to the budesonide group (1.18 cm versus 0.70 cm, respectively) (von Berg 2007).
In the study that compared ciclesonide 160 μg once daily versus budesonide 400 μg once daily, one patient in each treatment group terminated participation due to serious adverse effects, but the author did not specify the nature of these effects (von Berg 2007).
Both studies (1024 children) reported that 24-hour urine cortisol adjusted for creatinine levels showed a significant decrease in the budesonide group compared to the ciclesonide group, but no numerical data were reported.
Both studies measured quality of life on the PAQLQ(S). One study used the interview version (von Berg 2007) and in the other study the PAQLQ(S) was self-administered (Vermeulen 2007). Patients answered questions using a 7-point scale where a score of 1 indicated maximum impairment and 7 indicated no impairment. Pooled results showed no significant differences between the groups (RR -0.00, 95% CI -0.09 to 0.09; two studies; 1010 children) ( Analysis 1.2). One study on 621 children also assessed quality of life using the self-administered Pediatric Asthma Caregiver Quality of Life Questionnaire (PACQLQ). Carers answered questions using a 7-point scale, where a score of 1 indicated maximum impairment and 7 indicated no impairment, and reported one-sided superiority of ciclesonide but did not provide acceptance limits (von Berg 2007).
Pooled result of FEV
Compliance and airway inflammation were not formally assessed in either of the studies comparing ciclesonide versus budesonide.
Ciclesonide versus fluticasone propionate
Four studies assessed the effect of ciclesonide versus fluticasone (Hiremath 2006; Paunovic 2010; Pedersen 2006; Pedersen 2009) at a dose ratio of 1:1 and one study also assessed a dose ratio of 1:2 (ciclesonide 80 μg once daily compared to the fluticasone 88 μg twice daily; Pedersen 2009). Ciclesonide was administered once daily in all but one study that administered ciclesonide 80 μg twice a day (Pedersen 2006). One study did not report how either of the study drugs were delivered (Paunovic 2010). In one study both ciclesonide and fluticasone were delivered using an MDI with the AeroChamber Plus® spacer (Hiremath 2006) and in the other two studies both drugs were delivered using an HFA-MDI without a spacer (Pedersen 2006; Pedersen 2009). Two studies were designed to assess non-inferiority of ciclesonide. Both studies performed a PP analysis and used an ITT analysis to test for robustness of the results. In both studies, the non-inferiority limits were set for the primary endpoint FEV
Of the four studies that assessed a dose ratio of 1:1, the study that administered ciclesonide 80 μg twice daily (Pedersen 2006) was considered to be clinically similar to the studies that administered ciclesonide 160 μg once daily (Hiremath 2006; Paunovic 2010; Pedersen 2009). Therefore, we pooled the data of these studies where possible. The results are shown in Table 3.
Dose ratio 1:1
In two studies on 1048 children asthma symptom scores were assessed using a 5-point scale where a score of 0 represented no asthma symptoms and a score of 4 represented very bad symptoms, unable to carry out daily activities (Pedersen 2006; Pedersen 2009). The results could not be pooled since data were reported as medians and this indicates skewed data. The other two studies on 932 children did not provide information on how asthma symptoms were measured (Hiremath 2006; Paunovic 2010) (see: Summary of findings 2).
No significant differences were found in asthma symptoms and rescue medication-free days (four studies; 1934 children) (Hiremath 2006; Paunovic 2010; Pedersen 2006; Pedersen 2009) and non-inferiority of ciclesonide was confirmed (limit was set at 0.3) for asthma symptom scores in one study on 492 children (Pedersen 2009) (see Table 3).
Pooled data of two studies comparing ciclesonide 160 μg versus fluticasone 88 μg twice daily showed no significant difference in number of patients with exacerbations (RR 1.37, 95% CI 0.58 to 3.21; two studies; 1003 children) ( Analysis 2.1) (Pedersen 2006; Pedersen 2009). One study on 420 children reported that the number of patients with exacerbations was similar in both the ciclesonide and fluticasone groups (2.3% and 2.2%, respectively) (Paunovic 2010).
One study on 492 children reported that five (2.1%) children treated with ciclesonide 160 μg and two (0.8%) children treated with fluticasone 88 μg twice daily discontinued the study prematurely due to asthma exacerbation (Pedersen 2009).
No significant difference in number of patients with adverse events were found between ciclesonide 160 μg and fluticasone 88 μg twice daily (RR 0.88, 95% CI 0.72 to 1.07; one study; 492 children) ( Analysis 2.2) (Pedersen 2009). The other two studies on 1023 children reported that adverse effects were similar in both groups (Hiremath 2006; Pedersen 2006) and one study did not assess adverse effects (Paunovic 2010).
The outcome 24-hour urine cortisol adjusted for creatinine levels was reported in one study. No significant differences were found for ciclesonide compared to fluticasone (MD 0.54 nmol/mmol, 95% CI -5.92 to 7.00; one study; 492 children) ( Analysis 2.3).
Dose ratio 1:2
In one study on 502 children, no significant differences were found in asthma symptoms and rescue medication-free days. For asthma symptom sum scores non-inferiority (limit was set at 0.3) was confirmed (Pedersen 2009)
The number of exacerbations was significantly higher in the ciclesonide 80 μg once-daily group compared to the fluticasone 88 μg twice-daily group (RR 3.57, 95% CI 1.35 to 9.47; one study; 502 children) ( Analysis 2.1) (Pedersen 2009).
Thirteen (5.2%) participants treated with ciclesonide 80 μg and two (0.8%) treated with fluticasone 88 μg discontinued the study prematurely due to asthma exacerbation (Pedersen 2009).
No significant differences in number of patients with adverse effects were found between ciclesonide 80 μg once daily and fluticasone 88 μg twice daily (RR 0.98, 95% CI 0.81 to 1.1; one study; 502 children) ( Analysis 2.2) (Pedersen 2009).
No significant difference was found for 24-hour urine cortisol adjusted for creatinine levels in ciclesonide 80 μg once daily versus fluticasone 88 μg twice daily (MD 1.15 nmol/mmol, 95% CI 0.07 to 2.23; one study; 502 children) ( Analysis 2.3).
Dose ratio 1:1
Quality of life measured by the PAQLQ and the PACQLQ was reported in one study on 492 children (Pedersen 2009). Patients and carers answered questions using a 7-point scale where a score of 1 indicated maximum impairment and 7 indicated no impairment.
Non-inferiority was confirmed for both measurements for ciclesonide compared to fluticasone (P < 0.0001, one-sided) (Pedersen 2009). Non-inferiority limits were set at -0.5 for the PAQLQ scores and 15 for the PACQLQ scores. The other studies did not formally assess quality of life.
Pooled data of two studies showed no significant difference in FEV
None of the studies formally assessed outcomes on compliance or airway inflammation.
Dose ratio 1:2
Quality of life was measured by the PAQLQ(S) and the PACQLQ. Patients and carers answered questions using a 7-point scale where a score of 1 indicated maximum impairment and 7 indicated no impairment. Non-inferiority of ciclesonide versus fluticasone was confirmed for both measurements (P < 0.0001, one-sided) (Pedersen 2009).
Results were similar in both groups and non-significant for FEV
The outcomes compliance or airway inflammation were not formally assessed.
It was not possible to conduct subgroup or sensitivity analyses due to lack of sufficient data.
Summary of main results
In this review we assessed the efficacy and safety of ciclesonide compared to other ICS (budesonide and fluticasone) at a dose ratio 1:1 and 1:2 in the treatment of children younger than 18 years of age with chronic asthma. We found six studies including 3256 children that met our inclusion criteria.
We found no significant differences in efficacy between ciclesonide and fluticasone or budesonide for asthma symptoms and exacerbations after 12 weeks of treatment, except for one study comparing ciclesonide versus fluticasone (1:2) that found significantly more exacerbations in the ciclesonide group. Adherence was not assessed in the studies.
With regards to safety, local side effects such as pharyngitis were seen in both treatment groups with no significant differences, even in the study using a very high dose of budesonide (800 μg) administered once daily. Looking at systemic side effects, one study showed a significant improvement in height in the ciclesonide group compared to the budesonide group after 12 weeks of intervention, but measurements were only performed in a subset of patients. Studies assessing 24-hour urinary cortisol levels showed either less suppression (ciclesonide versus budesonide) or no significant difference (ciclesonide versus fluticasone).
Overall completeness and applicability of evidence
Only six studies fulfilled our inclusion criteria, of which two studies were only published in abstract form, with limited details available concerning the participants enrolled, definition of outcome measures and trial methodology. The studies were mainly performed in Eastern European countries and South-Africa, where fewer children might have received ICS treatment before enrolment in the studies than in western European countries. Patients included in the published studies were aged four to 15 years and diagnosed with chronic moderate-to-severe asthma according to ATS/GINA criteria, with a relatively poor FEV
In all studies for the outcome adverse effects, 24-hour urinary cortisol levels was measured. The clinical relevance of lower 24-hour urinary cortisol levels for patients and practitioners is unclear and more important is the ability of the adrenal cortex to be able to respond to stressful circumstances, such as an infection, fever, etc. The most appropriate test would then be the more invasive low-dose adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) (Synacthen) stimulation test, which is more sensitive in detecting adrenal impairment (Crowley 1991; Lipworth 1999). However, for relevant systemic adverse effects, such as growth and adrenal insufficiency, a follow-up period of 12 weeks is too short.
One study was published assessing the long-term safety of ciclesonide (Skoner 2008). This RCT was not included in this review, because it compared ciclesonide to placebo. Mean linear growth velocity and 24-hour urinary cortisol levels were similar in the three groups after one year. However, this study could not provide enough reassurance about safety, as considerable concern was expressed about compliance of the children as their asthma was very mild and the study failed to show any benefit of ciclesonide in terms of lung function or asthma control (Chapman 2008; Malozowski 2008).
All studies included in this review were designed as non-inferiority trials. The allowance of setting pre-defined non-inferiority acceptance limits the concern is that drugs that are less effective will be classified as non-inferior or as effective as the control drug. A trial showing non-inferiority of the experimental drug suggests that the experimental drug is as good as the standard treatment. However, the width of the pre-defined margins of inferiority has to be taken into account when interpreting the results of these trials individually. Wide margins can result in concluding that the experimental treatment is equally beneficial when it is really less beneficial. Additionally, non-inferiority should be assessed for relevant outcomes, with a sufficiently long treatment and follow-up period.
Not all of the included studies in our review provided non-inferiority acceptance limits for our primary outcomes. Additionally most of the non-inferiority limits were hard to interpret for reasons such as unclear description of the outcome measure (asthma symptom scores) and no information available on clinical important difference of the questionnaire (PACQLQ). To help readers of this review interpret data of individual studies we provided pre-defined non-inferiority limits where possible.
The results of the primary studies are focused on non-inferiority of ciclesonide versus another ICS. However, when data could be pooled non-inferiority was not a concern anymore since the point estimate and CI are not influenced by the acceptance limits set in the individual studies. In addition, a meta-analysis of non-inferiority studies showed that drugs that were found non-inferior in published RCTs were not shown to be systematically less effective than standard treatments (Soonawala 2010).
Quality of the evidence
Using recommendations in the Cochrane Handbook and from the GRADE working group, we judged that the quality of the evidence was 'low' for the outcomes asthma symptoms and adverse events and 'very low' for the outcome exacerbations for ciclesonide versus budesonide (dose ratio 1:1; Summary of findings table 1). The quality of evidence was graded 'moderate for the outcome asthma symptoms, 'very low' for the outcome exacerbations and 'low' for the outcome adverse events for ciclesonide versus fluticasone (dose ratio 1:1; Summary of findings table 2). For ciclesonide versus fluticasone (dose ratio 1:2) the quality was rated 'low' for the outcome asthma symptoms and 'very low' for exacerbations and adverse events (dose ratio 1:2; Summary of findings table 3).
The evidence was regarded TO BE indirect due to the fact that in all studies the outcomes were measured after a 12-week intervention period, which was regarded as an insufficient period to expect an effect on the outcomes adverse events and exacerbations.
Potential biases in the review process
We used the methods described in the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions (Higgins 2011b) to prevent or restrict the risk of bias in our review process. A comprehensive search of the literature searching several databases was conducted. We are confident that all relevant published studies for this review were found. We did attempt to find study protocols by searching www.clinicalstudyresults.org. We included six studies and therefore we could not generate funnel plots to identify publication bias. We contacted study authors in an attempt to find additional data, but did not receive any. Two review authors independently performed study selection, data collection, risk of bias and GRADE assessment to minimise bias. We did not write a protocol for this review but used the protocol of the review of Manning 2009. Any changes to this protocol are listed in the following section of this review (Differences between protocol and review).
Agreements and disagreements with other studies or reviews
Our findings are largely in keeping with other reviews on small particle size and reviews in adult patients. The systematic review by Manning 2009 comparing ciclesonide to other ICS in adults reached the same conclusions on efficacy outcomes; ciclesonide is equal to budesonide/fluticasone in terms of lung function end points, but for our primary outcomes this could not be established due to wide CIs (Manning 2009). The results of this review are also similar to the reported results on the outcomes FEV
Implications for practice
A beneficial effect on asthma symptoms, exacerbations and side effects of ciclesonide versus budesonide or fluticasone could be neither demonstrated nor refuted. Ciclesonide was non-inferior compared to budesonide or fluticasone in terms of lung function end points and in some studies less suppression on cortisol outcomes was demonstrated.
New medications should either be more effective, safer or cheaper before they can be recommended for clinical practice. Because older medications have been used for longer periods of time, more knowledge is available on their long-term safety and they are usually cheaper than new drugs (resource use). As far as we are aware there were few data available for the cost-effectiveness of ciclesonide compared to other ICS.
Several other considerations must be taken into account before making clinical decisions, such as the trade-off between benefits and harms, patient preferences and values, and resource use. The importance of these considerations can differ among different countries and cultures, leading to different recommendations for practice. For patient and parents, long-term safety of ICS is an important issue. Well-designed long-term safety studies for ciclesonide are lacking. We cannot exclude that children receiving ciclesonide experience more exacerbations, as the CIs included potential harm as well as benefit. Therefore, the trade-off between benefits and harms of using ciclesonide instead of budesonide or fluticasone is unclear.
An advantage of ciclesonide over other ICS is that it is licensed for once-daily use, which could enhance compliance (Osterberg 2005), particularly in patients where compliance is a problem. Although ciclesonide is not registered for use with an AeroChamber® in paediatric practice, it is common to use a spacer device and AeroChamber Plus® is an adequate choice based on the low plume velocity of the ciclesonide-pMDI. In addition, several studies have also used an AeroChamber® to deliver ciclesonide (Hiremath 2006; Pedersen 2010; von Berg 2007). In the end, resource use or costs of different ICS should be considered in final decision making.
Implications for research
Based on this review a number of recommendations can be made for future trials. First, instead of non-inferiority studies, superiority trials are needed to identify the efficacy and safety of ciclesonide compared to other ICS. In addition, these studies should be powered for patient-relevant outcomes (exacerbations, asthma symptoms, quality of life and side effects) and not only on surrogate endpoints such as lung function and cortisol.
Studies comparing ciclesonide once daily with other ICS twice daily should be conducted, to test the advantages of ciclesonide being a pro-drug that can be administered once daily. Once daily administration versus twice daily may result in increased adherence and to increased control of asthma and fewer side effects. In general, studies of at least six to 12 months' duration are needed to compare the relative benefits and side effects of the various ICS and their ways of administration on the longer term. Finally, inhaler devices and inhaler techniques needs to be taken into consideration in designing future trials and ideally, two doses of each drug-device combination should be compared to two doses of the comparator drug-device combination.
We are grateful to the staff of the editorial base of the Cochrane Airways Group for providing assistance in running searches and obtaining papers.
We would like to acknowledge the authors of the previous review: P. Manning (initiation of protocol; assessment of studies, data extraction, write up), P.G. Gibson (protocol development, write up, contact editor) and T. Lasserson (assessment of studies, data extraction, data entry and analysis, write up) for their excellent work. The results of their efforts formed the basis of this review.
Data and analyses
- Top of page
- Summary of findings [Explanations]
- Authors' conclusions
- Data and analyses
- Contributions of authors
- Declarations of interest
- Sources of support
- Differences between protocol and review
- Index terms
Appendix 1. Sources and search methods for the Cochrane Airways Group Specialised Register (CAGR)
Electronic searches: core databases
Handsearches: core respiratory conference abstracts
MEDLINE search strategy used to identify trials for the CAGR
1. exp Asthma/
3. (antiasthma$ or anti-asthma$).mp.
4. Respiratory Sounds/
6. Bronchial Spasm/
8. (bronch$ adj3 spasm$).mp.
10. exp Bronchoconstriction/
11. (bronch$ adj3 constrict$).mp.
12. Bronchial Hyperreactivity/
13. Respiratory Hypersensitivity/
14. ((bronchial$ or respiratory or airway$ or lung$) adj3 (hypersensitiv$ or hyperreactiv$ or allerg$ or insufficiency)).mp.
15. ((dust or mite$) adj3 (allerg$ or hypersensitiv$)).mp.
Filter to identify RCTs
1. exp "clinical trial [publication type]"/
2. (randomized or randomised).ab,ti.
11. 9 not (9 and 10)
12. 8 not 11
The MEDLINE strategy and RCT filter are adapted to identify trials in other electronic databases.
Appendix 2. Database search strategies
#11 search #9 and #10
#10 Search ("2007"[Entrez Date] : "2011"[Entrez Date])
#9 Search #5 and #8
#8 Search #6 or #7
#7 Search (((((randomised[Title/Abstract]) OR randomized[Title/Abstract]) OR placebo[Title/Abstract]) OR randomly[Title/Abstract]) OR trial[Title/Abstract]) OR groups[Title/Abstract]
#6 Search "Randomized Controlled Trials"[MESH] OR "Clinical Trials"[MESH] OR "Controlled Clinical Trials"[MESH] OR "Cross-Over Studies"[MESH] OR "Multicenter Studies"[MESH]
#5 Search #3 and #4
#4 Search ciclesonide[Text Word] OR CIC[Text Word] OR Alvesco[Text Word]
#3 Search #1 or #2
#2 Search "asthma*"[tw] or "wheez*"[tw]
#1 Search "asthma"[MESH]
EMBASE (Ovid) search
1. exp Asthma/
2. (asthma$ or wheez$).mp.
3. 1 or 2
5. (ciclesonide or alvesco or CIC).mp.
6. 4 or 5
7. 3 and 6
8. Randomized Controlled Trial/
10. Controlled Study/
11. Clinical Trial/
12. controlled clinical trial/
13. Double Blind Procedure/
14. Single Blind Procedure/
15. Crossover Procedure/
16. exp Placebo/
18. (randomized or randomised).ot,ab.
24. 17 or 23
25. exp ANIMAL/
28. 25 or 26
29. 28 not 27
30. 24 not 29
31. 7 and 30
32. (2007$ or 2008$ or 2009$ or 2010$ or 2011$).em.
33. 31 and 32
Contributions of authors
SFK: conception and design of study, and analysis and the interpretation of data. Drafting the review. Final approval of the document to be published.
BLR: drafting the review and commenting on it critically for intellectual content. Final approval of the document to be published.
RPJMS: drafting the review and commenting on it critically for intellectual content. Final approval of the document to be published.
NB: drafting the review and commenting on it critically for intellectual content. Final approval of the document to be published.
Declarations of interest
Sources of support
- SFK used to be a staff member of the Dutch Cochrane Centre and is now a staff member of the Australasian Cochrane Centre, Australia.Received salary
- NB Dutch Quality Fund for Medical Specialists (SKMS), Netherlands.
Differences between protocol and review
This review is a result of an amendment of a review published in 2009 by Manning assessing the effect of ciclesonide compared to other ICS in adults and children. In this review we only focused on a population younger than 18 years of age. We based the methods of this review on the methods of the review of Manning 2009 and apart from the change of population of interest we made some additional changes. Our primary outcomes were asthma symptoms, exacerbations and adverse effect. We did not include surrogate measures of lung function as our primary outcome since this is not an outcome that is regarded as relevant to patients, but this outcome was included as one of our secondary outcomes.
In the earlier review, study quality was assessed using the Jadad scale. We assessed risk of bias using The Cochrane Collaboration's 'Risk of bias' tool. Studies identified in the earlier review were re-assessed. Furthermore, we provide 'Summary of findings' tables according to GRADE for primary outcomes.
For the planning of exploring heterogeneity we did not use any cut of points based on values of the I
Medical Subject Headings (MeSH)
Adrenal Cortex Hormones [*administration & dosage; adverse effects]; Androstadienes [administration & dosage; adverse effects]; Anti-Asthmatic Agents [*administration & dosage; adverse effects]; Asthma [*drug therapy]; Budesonide [administration & dosage; adverse effects]; Pregnenediones [*administration & dosage; adverse effects]; Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
MeSH check words
Adolescent; Child; Child, Preschool; Humans
* Indicates the major publication for the study