07 November 2016
Spontaneous sputum production occurs in a subset of COPD patients; however, its clinical relevance has not been established. Differences in health status and clinical outcomes between patients with and without positive sputum cultures are unknown.
To compare clinical characteristics and health status of spontaneous sputum producers with a positive culture (SC+) and negative culture (SC−) with nonsputum producers (NP) in a cohort of COPD patients referred for pulmonary rehabilitation.
In total, 518 clinically stable patients with mild-to-very severe COPD were recruited (mean age: 64.1±9.1 years, 55.6% males, forced expiratory volume in 1 second 48.6%±20.0% predicted). Health status was measured using COPD Assessment Test, St George’s Respiratory Questionnaire, and the Clinical COPD Questionnaire. Symptoms of anxiety and depression were assessed using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale. Exercise capacity was measured using the 6-minute walking distance. Spontaneously expectorated sputum was cultured for microbiology.
Almost one-third of patients spontaneously produced sputum (n=164, 31.7%). Despite comparable lung function, SC+ reported more frequent exacerbations than NP (≥2 exacerbations <1 year: 43 [81.1%] vs 179 [50.6%], P<0.001). COPD Assessment Test total score and the Clinical COPD Questionnaire total score were significantly worse in SC+ than NP (23.9±6.1 vs 21.1±6.7, P=0.012; 3.1±1.0 vs 2.5±1.0, P=0.002; respectively). Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale-D score was significantly higher in SC+ than NP (8.7±4.1 vs 7.2±4.3, P=0.046).
Spontaneous sputum production is common in COPD. Particularly, patients with positive cultures have worse health status and more symptoms of depression. Impact on disease progression and long-term outcomes remain to be established.
NTR3416, registered at www.trialregister.nl.