Chapter 8. Theophylline: A Bioactive Dimethylxanthine Alkaloid


Santwana Palai1, Subhash Chandra2,3 Neetu Pandey 2, Rajbeer Singh2
Department of Veterinary Pharmacology & Toxicology, College of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry, Odisha University of Agriculture and Technology, Odisha, India
2Department of Applied Chemistry and Basic Science, Sardar Bhagwan Singh University Balawala Dehradun, Uttarakhand, India
3Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, School of Sciences, Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University (A Central University), Uttarakhand, India

Part of the book: The Essential Guide to Alkaloids


Theophylline “1,3-dimethylxanthine” is present in trace amounts in tea leaves, coffee, green coffee, unsweetened natural cocoa, and mate. It acts as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and immunomodulator. Theophylline was found to have anti-inflammatory effects on cytokines produced primarily by mononuclear phagocytic cells. It increases steroid sensitivity and thus decreases oxidative stress. It dilates the airways of the lungs for ease of breathing. It lowers the bronchial airways and smooths muscle activity and blood vessels in the lungs. It also reduces the airway’s sensitivity to adenosine, histamine, methacholine, and allergens. It’s been used for a long time for the treatment of respiratory diseases, singly or combinedly with other medications. Shortness of breath, chest tightness, and wheezing are triggered in chronic bronchitis, and emphysema, asthma-like lung disease is cured through theophylline. The swift rise of the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated the advancement in treatments for rightly attacking new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Theophylline can be a pertinent option as it targets numerous immunological targets of COVID-19 pathophysiology. This chapter sorts effects and applications of theophylline having potential bronchodilator, immunomodulatory and antiviral effects which makes it an interesting candidate in the treatment of COVID-19.

Keywords: antioxidant, bronchodilatation, inflammation, immunomodulation methylxanthine, phosphodiesterase


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