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      Greater eosinophil counts at first COPD hospitalization are associated with more readmissions and fewer deaths

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          The impacts of high blood eosinophil count (HBEC) at admission for COPD exacerbation on posthospitalization outcomes are still unclear. Previous studies have focused on its associations with first readmission rates; yet, its impacts on longitudinal outcomes such as subsequent readmissions still have to be explored. The main objective of this study is to investigate outcomes associated with HBEC following a first hospitalization for COPD exacerbation.

          Patients and methods

          This is an observational cohort study design. We retrospectively analyzed data of patients with a first hospitalization within 5 years for COPD exacerbation between April 2006 and March 2013. Patients were stratified into the HBEC group if the blood eosinophil count at admission was ≥200 cells/µL and/or ≥2% of the total white blood cells. With information on exact dates of subsequent hospitalizations and death, we modeled readmissions and death as states in a multi-state Markov model and estimated transition probabilities to the next states. Sensitivity analyses were performed by varying thresholds for the definition of HBEC (≥300 cells/µL and/or ≥3%).


          A total of 479 patients were included, of which 173 had HBEC. The transition probabilities for a first readmission was 74% (95% CI, 66%–83%) for patients with HBEC vs 70% (95% CI, 63%–77%) for patients with normal blood eosinophil count (NBEC). The transition probabilities for a second readmission were 91% (95% CI, 84%–100%) for HBEC patients in contrast with 83% (95% CI, 74%–92%) for NBEC patients. Meanwhile, transition probability for death was lower in patients with HBEC. The differences enlarged in sensitivity analyses with higher cutoff.


          Greater blood eosinophil cell counts during a first hospitalization for COPD predict increased susceptibility to up to two readmissions. These patients may however have a lower risk of death.

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          Most cited references 20

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          Analysis of induced sputum in adults with asthma: identification of subgroup with isolated sputum neutrophilia and poor response to inhaled corticosteroids.

          The debate as to whether asthma is a single or heterogeneous disease remains unresolved although pathological studies, mostly using fibreoptic bronchoscopy on small numbers of subjects, have emphasised the similarities between different clinical phenotypes. Lower airway inflammation was assessed non-invasively using induced sputum in 34 normal controls and 259 adults with symptomatic asthma receiving treatment at steps 1-3 of the British Thoracic Society (BTS) guidelines. A subgroup of 49 patients treated with as required beta(2) agonists only who met BTS criteria for a step up in treatment were studied before and 2 months after treatment with inhaled budesonide 400 micro g twice daily. There was considerable heterogeneity in induced sputum cell counts, particularly in non-atopic patients. A subgroup of 60 patients had a distinctive sputum cell profile with a neutrophil count higher than our normal range (>65.3%) and a normal sputum eosinophil count (<1.9%). These patients were older, predominantly female, and were more likely to be non-atopic but otherwise had similar clinical and physiological features to the group as a whole. Among the 49 subjects studied before and after inhaled budesonide, 11 patients had an isolated sputum neutrophilia. Following treatment, these patients showed significantly less improvement in visual analogue symptom scores (-5.5 v -19.4 mm; mean difference 13.9; 95% CI 0.7 to 27.0), forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV(1)) (-0.08 v 0.13 l; mean difference 0.21; 95% CI 0.03 to 0.39), and concentration of methacholine provoking a fall in FEV(1) of 20% or more (PC(20)) (0.15 v 1.29 doubling doses; mean difference 1.11; 95% CI 0.13 to 2.15) than the remaining 38 patients. These results suggest the presence of a distinct subgroup of patients with mild to moderate asthma who have predominantly neutrophilic airway inflammation and who respond less well to treatment with inhaled corticosteroids.
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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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              Predictors of exacerbation risk and response to budesonide in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a post-hoc analysis of three randomised trials.

              The peripheral blood eosinophil count might help identify those patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) who will experience fewer exacerbations when taking inhaled corticosteroids (ICS). Previous post-hoc analyses have proposed eosinophil cutoffs that are both arbitrary and limited in evaluating complex interactions of treatment response. We modelled eosinophil count as a continuous variable to determine the characteristics that determine both exacerbation risk and clinical response to ICS in patients with COPD.

                Author and article information

                Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis
                Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis
                International Journal of COPD
                International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
                Dove Medical Press
                30 January 2019
                : 14
                : 331-341
                [1 ]Center for Innovation Management Research of Xinjiang, School of Economics and Management, Xinjiang University, Urumqi, Xinjiang, China
                [2 ]Research Center, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Sherbrooke (CHUS), Sherbrooke, QC, Canada, alain.vanasse@
                [3 ]Respirology Service, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, QC, Canada
                [4 ]Health Technology Assessment Unit, UETMISSS, CIUSSS de l’Estrie – CHUS, Sherbrooke, QC, Canada
                [5 ]Department of Family Medicine and Emergency Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, QC, Canada
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Alain Vanasse, Département de médecine familiale et de médecine d’urgence, 3001, 12th Avenue North, Sherbrooke, QC, Canada J1H 5N4, Tel +1 819 821 8000 ext 70540, Fax +1 819 564 5386, Email alain.vanasse@
                © 2019 Li 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.

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