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Inflammation and chronic colonization of Haemophilus influenzae in sputum in COPD patients related to the degree of emphysema and bronchiectasis in high-resolution computed tomography

Authors Tufvesson E, Markstad H, Bozovic G, Ekberg M, Bjermer L

Received 21 March 2017

Accepted for publication 5 July 2017

Published 1 November 2017 Volume 2017:12 Pages 3211—3219


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Colin Mak

Peer reviewer comments 5

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Russell

Ellen Tufvesson,1 Hanna Markstad,2 Gracijela Bozovic,2 Marie Ekberg,1 Leif Bjermer1

1Respiratory Medicine and Allergology, 2Radiology, Department of Clinical Sciences Lund, Lund University, Skåne University Hospital, Lund, Sweden

Abstract: The presence of bacteria in the lower airways in COPD results in inflammation, further airway structural damage, and might lead to repeated exacerbations. We have previously shown that chronic colonization of Haemophilus influenzae during stable disease is related to increased inflammation, and we now aimed to relate previous findings of bacterial colonization and inflammation to the degree of radiological findings of bronchiectasis and emphysema. Thirty-nine patients with COPD were included in their stable state, and a high-resolution computed tomography of the lung was performed. They were followed-up monthly for up to a maximum of 6 months or until exacerbation, and they answered questionnaires, performed spirometry, and induced sputum at every visit. Thirty-five patients had emphysema with an emphysema degree of median 20% (interquartile range 10–50), and five patients had bronchiectasis, of which only four could expectorate sputum. The degree of emphysema correlated with several inflammatory mediators in sputum, such as interleukin-8 concentration, myeloperoxidase activity, and Leukotriene B4 concentration. Ten patients were chronically colonized with H. influenzae (ie, had a positive culture for H. influenzae at all visits). The four sputum patients with bronchiectasis were chronically colonized with H. influenzae and showed higher degree of H. influenzae growth compared to patients without bronchiectasis. During exacerbation, there was no longer any correlation between emphysema degree and inflammation, but patients with bronchiectasis showed higher sputum purulence score than patients without bronchiectasis. Emphysema and bronchiectasis in COPD patients show different clinical features. The presence of emphysema is more related to inflammation, while bronchiectasis is associated with bacterial colonization. We believe that both emphysema and bronchiectasis are therefore COPD phenotypes of highest impact and need evaluation to prevent further disease progression.

Keywords: bronchiectasis, emphysema, COPD, chronic colonization, inflammation, pathogenic bacteria

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