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      Evaluation of the Characteristics of Asthma in Severe and Extremely Severe COPD

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          Biotherapy for asthma may be useful in patients suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) with asthma characteristics. Therefore, the evaluation and close monitoring of asthma characteristics in severe and extremely severe COPD can guide treatment decisions to improve prognosis.


          Stable patients suffering from COPD and having a forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV 1%) of ≤50% (GOLD 3–4) in the First Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-Sen University from December 2014 to June 2018 were retrospectively enrolled in this study and evaluated in terms of their asthma characteristics (blood eosinophil counts, fractional exhaled NO [FeNO] values, and reversibility).


          A total of 178 patients with an average age of 65.62±9.28 years were enrolled in this study. A total of 85 patients had an improvement of ≥12% in FEV 1%, and 61 of these patients had an absolute increase of >200 mL. Of 122 patients, 68 had blood eosinophil counts of ≥150 cells/μl, whereas 27 showed blood eosinophil counts ≥300 cells/μl. The blood eosinophil of ≥2% was found in 66/122 (54.10%) patients, whereas ≥3% was found in 51/122 (41.80%) patients. A total of 46 of 58 patients had an increased serum IgE level of ≥30 IU/mL, and 32 patients had an IgE of ≥100 IU/mL. The FeNO value of ≥25 ACO (ppb) was found in 51/155 (32.90%) patients. Furthermore, 43 patients had asthma–COPD overlap (ACO), and the FeNO values in the ACO group was 26.13±14.91 ppb, which was significantly higher than that in the COPD alone group (20.99±9.16 ppb; P=0.016). A total of 12 patients with ACO had a negative response after bronchodilation. In the COPD alone group, 34 patients had an absolute increase of >200 mL, whereas 55 of the 95 patients had blood eosinophil counts of ≥150 cells/μl. The blood eosinophilia of ≥2% was found in 54/95 (56.84%) patients. A total of 36 of 45 patients had an increased serum IgE level of ≥30 IU/mL. The FeNO value of 34/123 (27.64%) patients was ≥25 ppb.


          The characteristics of asthma are common findings in patients with severe and extremely severe COPD. Biomarkers should be actively used to evaluate the characteristics of asthma in these patients. If the characteristics of asthma exist, then anti-IgE or anti-IL-5 therapy should be considered to reduce exacerbation.

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          Most cited references 21

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          Blood Eosinophils and Exacerbations in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. The Copenhagen General Population Study.

          Whether high blood eosinophils are associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) exacerbations among individuals with COPD in the general population is largely unknown.
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            Overlap syndrome of asthma and COPD predicts low quality of life.

            In clinical practice, patients whose airway disease shares features of both asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) remain poorly recognized. The study population consisted of 1546 patients with a diagnosis of asthma or COPD or both. Based on patient-reported outcomes and retrospective medical record data, the study population was divided into three groups: ( 1 ) asthma only, ( 2 ) COPD only, and ( 3 ) both asthma and COPD (overlap syndrome group). We evaluated patient characteristics associated with health-related quality of life (HRQoL). In many respects, the overlap group fell between the asthma and COPD groups. In the overlap group, however, HRQoL was the poorest of all. In the logistic regression model, with the asthma group as the reference, both the overlap and the COPD group showed higher risk for low HRQoL [odd ratio (OR): 1.9; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.2-3.2; and OR: 1.8, 95% CI: 1.0-3.2; respectively]. In addition, female gender, obesity, duration of disease, disability pension, and coexisting cardiovascular disease were associated with low HRQoL across the study population. Patients with overlapping asthma and COPD differed from those patients with asthma or COPD only. Overlap syndrome was associated with low HRQoL.
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              Eosinophilic airway inflammation: role in asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

              The chronic lung diseases, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), are common affecting over 500 million people worldwide and causing substantial morbidity and mortality. Asthma is typically associated with Th2-mediated eosinophilic airway inflammation, in contrast to neutrophilic inflammation observed commonly in COPD. However, there is increasing evidence that the eosinophil might play an important role in 10-40% of patients with COPD. Consistently in both asthma and COPD a sputum eosinophilia is associated with a good response to corticosteroid therapy and tailored strategies aimed to normalize sputum eosinophils reduce exacerbation frequency and severity. Advances in our understanding of the multistep paradigm of eosinophil recruitment to the airway, and the consequence of eosinophilic inflammation, has led to the development of new therapies to target these molecular pathways. In this article we discuss the mechanisms of eosinophilic trafficking, the tools to assess eosinophilic airway inflammation in asthma and COPD during stable disease and exacerbations and review current and novel anti-eosinophilic treatments.

                Author and article information

                Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis
                Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis
                International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
                03 December 2019
                : 14
                : 2663-2671
                [1 ]Department of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, The First Affiliated Hospital, Sun Yat-Sen University , Guangzhou, People’s Republic of China
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Yu-biao Guo Department of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, The First Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-Sen University, Institute of Respiratory Diseases of Sun Yat-Sen University , No. 58 Zhongshan 2nd Road, Guangzhou510080, Guangdong, People’s Republic of ChinaTel +86 20 8775 5766 Email

                These authors contributed equally to this work

                © 2019 Chen et al.

                This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms (

                Page count
                Figures: 2, Tables: 4, References: 32, Pages: 9
                Original Research


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