Background: Lower respiratory tract infections (LRTI) occur frequently in patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), and are a major cause of morbidity, mortality and health care utilization. The aim of this study was to investigate if non- or less invasive markers of inflammation and oxidative stress can predict the course of the infections.
Methods: Twenty-five COPD patients who were admitted to hospital with a LRTI were included. Within 24 hours after admittance, spirometry (FEV1, FVC, MEF50), measurement of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) in exhaled breath condensate (EBC), symptom scores and analyses of ESR, CRP, ECP, and MPO in serum were performed. All patients were treated with intravenous dexamethasone, nebulised salbutamol/ipratropium and, if needed, antibiotics. The tests were repeated at day 2, 3, 7 and 30.
Results: Complete data of the first four visits were collected in 19 patients. The H2O2 concentration and spirometry parameters did not change significantly during the study period. CRP, ESR and MPO levels decreased significantly during treatment, while the other serum inflammatory parameters did not change. There were no significant correlations between H2O2 concentration, spirometry and serum inflammatory parameters.
Conclusions: In conclusion, this study showed no significant changes in H2O2 concentration in EBC, or spirometry during treatment of a LRTI in COPD patients. In contrast, several serum inflammatory markers did decrease during hospitalization, thus providing a simple tool to monitor exacerbations.