Since its discovery as component of the tea leaf by Albert Kossel in 1888, the history of theophylline (CAS 58-55-9) has been a long and successful one. At the turn of the century, theophylline became less expensive due to chemical synthesis and was primarily used as diuretic in subsequent years. It was Samuel Hirsch who discovered the bronchospasmolytic effect of theophylline in 1992, however, despite this pioneering discovery theophylline continued to be used primarily as diuretic and cardiac remedy. The molecular mechanism of bronchodilatation is inhibition of phosphodiesterase(PDE)3 and PDE4, but the anti-inflammatory effect may be due to histone deacetylase (HDAC) activation, resulting in switching off of activated inflammatory genes. Theophylline is indicated for the treatment of acute exacerbations of the symptoms and reversible airflow obstruction associated with asthma and other chronic lung diseases, e.g., emphysema and chronic bronchitis. NCATS
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