Tracking inflammation in COPD

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, is the combination of bronchitis and emphysema. This inflammatory disease leaves patients breathless and worsens over time, and, according to the WHO, it's likely be the third-leading cause of death worldwide by 2030. Doctors currently use physical assessment to diagnose their patients, but adding in biomarkers could help them understand more about the outcomes for individuals.

People with COPD have inflammation throughout their airways, and a team of researchers led by Tufts University School of Medicine screened blood samples from people in the ECLIPSE (Evaluation of COPD Longitudinally to Identify Predictive Surrogate Endpoints) to see if inflammatory biomarkers could predict disease outcome. While many of these have been assessed separately, there has been little research combining them together.

The combination of a number of biomarkers, including interleukin-6, a protein produced in inflamed tissue, was able to predict outcomes and survival. This could support doctors in decisions about selecting patients who might benefit the most from treatment.

Bartolome Celli, M.D., of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and the lead author, told MedPage Today, "This is the first study to show that the addition of biomarker levels to clinical predictors in COPD patients adds relevant prognostic information."

"This study adds to the field by the relative contribution of a panel of inflammatory biomarkers in predicting mortality for COPD," Rand Sutherland, chief of pulmonary and critical care medicine at National Jewish Hospital in Denver, told Medscape Medical News. Sutherland, who was not involved in the study, added that more validation will be needed before these markers can be used practically.

- see the abstract
- here's the story in MedPage Today
- check out the article in Medscape Medical News (sub. req.)