Last updated on May 2019

A Study of Pleiotropic Pioglitazone Effects on the Alcoholic Lung (APPEAL Study)


Brief description of study

This study is a single center, open-label, randomized clinical trial to determine the effect of pioglitazone (PIO) treatment on alveolar macrophage immune function, redox stress, and NADPH oxidase expression in outpatient alcoholic subjects. The researchers will recruit a cohort of otherwise healthy patients with an alcoholic use disorder from the Substance Abuse Treatment Program at the Atlanta Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center and randomize them to receive the usual treatment for two to four weeks or to the usual treatment plus PIO treatment for two to four weeks. There will also be a healthy control group (matched on age, gender, and smoking status) that will receive no treatment. To measure the effect of pioglitazone, participants will undergo a bronchoscopy before taking the study drug and then again 2-4 weeks later to look for changes. The bronchoscopy will allow researchers to obtain fluid from the lungs to see how well their immune cells respond to bacteria by determining phagocytic capacity.

Detailed Study Description

Alcohol abuse is a major burden on society and an enormous problem in the veteran population. Many people are aware that chronic alcohol ingestion can cause serious health problems like liver injury and brain damage but chronic alcohol consumption can also hurt the lungs. People who regularly drink more than the daily maximum levels recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (1 drink per day for women or 2 drinks per day for men) are more likely to suffer from pneumonia and acute lung injuries.

The primary goal of this clinical research study is to determine if a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved diabetes drug, called pioglitazone, can improve the lung immune defenses in otherwise healthy alcoholics. There is strong evidence from experimental animal models that pioglitazone preserves lung health even during daily alcohol ingestion.

This National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded project will recruit veterans who are patients at the Atlanta VA Hospital. Half of the participants will be randomly assigned to receive pioglitazone and half will be assigned to receive no treatment. Participants assigned to pioglitazone will take the pill once per day for two to four weeks. To measure the effect of pioglitazone, participants will undergo a procedure called a bronchoscopy before taking the study drug and then again 2-4 weeks later to look for changes. The bronchoscopy will allow researchers to obtain fluid from the lungs to see how well their immune cells respond to bacteria (by determining phagocytic capacity). The researchers also plan to enroll 12 healthy veteran patients who do not drink. These participants will undergo a one-time bronchoscopy and no other visits will be required of them.

The findings from this study will guide future, larger scale clinical trials to determine if pioglitazone can be used in the clinical setting to improve outcomes in alcoholics who develop pneumonia or acute lung injury.

Clinical Study Identifier: NCT03060772

Find a site near you

Start Over

Atlanta VA Medical Center

Decatur, GA United States
  Connect »

Recruitment Status: Open


Brief Description Eligibility Contact Research Team


Receive Emails About New Clinical Trials!

Sign up for our FREE service to receive email notifications when clinical trials are posted in the medical category of interest to you.