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Bronchial hyperresponsiveness, airway inflammation, and reversibility in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Authors Zanini A, Cherubino F, Zampogna E, Croce S, Pignatti P, Spanevello A

Received 16 January 2015

Accepted for publication 19 March 2015

Published 17 June 2015 Volume 2015:10(1) Pages 1155—1161

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/COPD.S80992

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 5

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Russell

Andrea Zanini,1 Francesca Cherubino,1 Elisabetta Zampogna,1 Stefania Croce,2 Patrizia Pignatti,2 Antonio Spanevello3

1Division of Pneumology, IRCCS Rehabilitation Institute of Tradate, Salvatore Maugeri Foundation (IRCCS), Tradate, Italy; 2Allergy and Immunology Unit, Salvatore Maugeri Foundation (IRCCS), Pavia, Italy; 3Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Insubria, Varese, Italy

Background: Bronchial hyperresponsiveness (BHR), sputum eosinophilia, and bronchial reversibility are often thought to be a hallmark of asthma, yet it has been shown to occur in COPD as well.
Objectives: To evaluate the relationship between BHR, lung function, and airway inflammation in COPD patients.
Methods: Thirty-one, steroid-free patients with stable, mild and moderate COPD were studied. The following tests were carried out: baseline lung function, reversibility, provocative dose of methacholine causing a 20% fall in forced expiratory volume in 1 second, a COPD symptom score, and sputum induction.
Results: Twenty-nine patients completed the procedures. About 41.4% had BHR, 31.0% had increased sputum eosinophils, and 37.9% had bronchial reversibility. Some of the patients had only one of these characteristics while others had two or the three of them. Patients with BHR had higher sputum eosinophils than patients without BHR (P=0.046) and those with sputum eosinophils ≥3% had more exacerbations in the previous year and a higher COPD symptom score than patients with sputum eosinophils <3% (P=0.019 and P=0.031, respectively). In patients with BHR, the cumulative dose of methacholine was negatively related to the symptom score and the number of exacerbations in the previous year. When patients with bronchial reversibility were considered, bronchodilation was positively related to sputum eosinophils.
Conclusion: Our study showed that BHR, sputum eosinophilia, and bronchial reversibility were not clustered in one single phenotype of COPD but could be present alone or together. Of interest, BHR and airway eosinophilia were associated with clinical data in terms of exacerbations and symptoms. Further investigation is needed to clarify this topic.

Keywords: hyperreactivity, methacholine, exacerbations, sputum eosinophilia, COPD

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