Prednisone Versus Doxycycline in the Treatment of Graves’ Orbitopathy


The aim of this study is to compare the efficacy and safety of prednisone versus sub-antimicrobial dose doxycycline (50 mg/d) in the treatment of active moderate-severe Graves' Orbitopathy (GO).

Full Title of Study: “The Effect of Prednisone Versus Doxycycline in Active, Moderately Severe Graves’ Orbitopathy: A Randomized, Multi-center, Double-blind, Parallel-controlled Trial”

Study Type

  • Study Type: Interventional
  • Study Design
    • Allocation: Randomized
    • Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
    • Primary Purpose: Treatment
    • Masking: Quadruple (Participant, Care Provider, Investigator, Outcomes Assessor)
  • Study Primary Completion Date: January 2016

Detailed Description

Graves' orbitopathy is an autoimmune disease characterized by an inflammatory phase followed by fibrosis. Surgery to correct eyelid swelling, proptosis, and diplopia is effective, but can not be done until the inflammatory phase has passed. To arrest the inflammatory phase, several types of immunosuppressive treatments have been investigated. Corticosteroids are the first-choice immunosuppressive treatment, having a successful outcome of 50-70% in patients. However, long time usage of corticosteroids often cause severe side-effects. Sub-antimicrobial dose doxycycline posses known anti-inflammatory effects that are separate from their antibacterial mode of action. This mode of action has lead to the routine use of sub-antimicrobial dose doxycycline for treating inflammatory or autoimmune diseases, such as rosacea, periodontitis and multiple sclerosis. The mechanism is by inhibiting lymphocyte proliferation and production of colony-stimulating factor, inflammatory cytokines, and immunoglobulins, factors thought to play a role in the orbital autoimmune process. These mechanisms make them, in theory, an attractive option of doxycycline for treating Graves' Orbitopathy. In addition, only few adverse events were reported when doxycycline were administered for 3 months in patients with periodontitis or rosacea. We propose to compare the effect and safety of sub-antimicrobial dose doxycycline versus prednisone for treating non-sight threatening, moderate-severe, inflammatory GO.


  • Drug: Prednisone+placebo of Doxycycline
    • Prednisone: 50 mg/d for 14 day, tailed by 40 mg/d for 14 day, 30 mg/d for 28 day, 20 mg/d for 28 day, 15 mg/d for 14 day, 10 mg/d for 14 day, in total 16 weeks; Placebo of doxycycline: administered for 16 weeks
  • Drug: Doxycycline+placebo of Prednisone
    • Doxycycline: 50 mg PO per day for 12 weeks, and placebo for another 4 weeks; Placebo of prednisone: administered for 16 weeks.

Arms, Groups and Cohorts

  • Active Comparator: Prednisone+placebo of Doxycycline
    • Prednisone: 50 mg/d for 14 day, tailed by 40 mg/d for 14 day, 30 mg/d for 28 day, 20 mg/d for 28 day, 15 mg/d for 14 day, 10 mg/d for 14 day, in total 16 weeks; Placebo of doxycycline: administered for 16 weeks.
  • Experimental: Doxycycline+placebo of Prednisone
    • Doxycycline: 50 mg/d for 12 weeks, and placebo for another 4 weeks; Placebo of prednisone: administered for 16 weeks.

Clinical Trial Outcome Measures

Primary Measures

  • Overall treatment response
    • Time Frame: 24 weeks
    • Overall treatment response was graded as: improvement, deterioration, and no success. Improvement, when at least one major criteria or two minor criteria were achieved, in absence of deterioration of any criterion in that observed eye.Three major criteria were: improvement in diplopia grade (disappearance or change in grade); improvement of ≥8 degrees in any direction of eye movements; reduction of three points or more in CAS. Four minor criteria were: reduction of 2 mm or more in eyelid aperture; reduction of 2 mm or more in proptosis; improvement in grade of soft tissue swelling; decrease in CAS by at least two points. Deterioration, defined as occurrence of DON, and/or worsening of soft tissue swelling, and/or worsening of diplopia, and/or an increase of ≥2 mm in lid aperture, and/or an increase of ≥2 mm in proptosis, and/or a decrease of ≥8 degrees in duction. No success was defined if there was no change or the changes did not reach the improvement criteria.

Secondary Measures

  • • Health related quality of life questionnaires (GO-QoL)
    • Time Frame: 24 weeks
  • • Safety and tolerability as assessed by adverse events, vital signs
    • Time Frame: 48 weeks
  • • Quantitative changes of rectus diameter measured by MRI scan
    • Time Frame: 24 weeks
  • Relapse
    • Time Frame: 48 weeks

Participating in This Clinical Trial

Inclusion Criteria

  • Confirmed diagnosis of Graves' Orbitopathy (as defined by Bartley and Gorman) – Eyelid retraction (upper eyelid margin at or above the superior corneoscleral limbus in primary gaze without frontalis muscle contraction) in association with any one of the following: – Thyroid dysfunction or abnormal regulation (increased serum thyroxine or triiodothyronine level, decreased serum thyroid stimulating hormone level, absence of thyroid radioiodine uptake suppression after administration of triiodothyronine, or the presence of thyroid stimulating immunoglobulins in serum) – Exophthalmos – Extraocular muscle involvement (restrictive myopathy or objective evidence of enlarged muscles) – Optic nerve dysfunction (abnormal visual acuity, color vision, pupillary reaction or perimetry not attributable to other causes) OR – Thyroid dysfunction or abnormal regulation in association with any one of the following: – Exophthalmos – Extraocular muscle involvement – Optic nerve dysfunction – Moderate-severe GO According to EUGOGO statement, patients with moderate-severe GO usually have any one or more of the following:lid retraction≥2mm, moderate or severe soft tissue involvement, exophthalmos≥3mm above normal for race and gender, inconstant, or constant diplopia. – Clinical activity score ≥ 3 – Being euthyroid for at least 1 months before the date of inclusion – Must be able to swallow tablets – Written informed consent is obtained Exclusion Criteria:

  • Mild Graves' Orbitopathy – Sight-threatening Graves' Orbitopathy – Clinical activity score < 3 – Previous treatment for GO Oral steroids, intravenous steroids, radiotherapy – Pregnant females as determined by positive (serum or urine) human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) test at screening or prior to dosing, or lactating females – Uncontrolled diabetes or hypertension – History of mental / psychiatric disorder – Hepatic dysfunction (Albumin (Alb) , Aspartate Aminotransferase (AST), Alanine Aminotransferase (ALT) and Alkaline phosphates levels must be within normal range for eligibility) – Renal impairment (Urea and Creatinine levels must be within normal range) – Doxycycline or Prednisone allergy or intolerance

Gender Eligibility: All

Minimum Age: 18 Years

Maximum Age: 60 Years

Are Healthy Volunteers Accepted: No

Investigator Details

  • Lead Sponsor
    • Sun Yat-sen University
  • Provider of Information About this Clinical Study
    • Principal Investigator: Dan Liang, Zhongshan Ophthalmic Center – Sun Yat-sen University
  • Overall Official(s)
    • Dan Liang, MD, Study Chair, Zhongshan Ophthalmic Center, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China
    • Liya Wang, MD, Principal Investigator, Henan Eye Institue, Henan, China
    • Luosheng Tang, MD, Principal Investigator, The second xiangya hospital of central south university, Hunan, China
  • Overall Contact(s)
    • Dan Liang, MD, 0086-20-87331766,

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