Therapeutic potential of treating chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) by neutralising granulocyte macrophage-colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF)

Pharmacol Ther. 2006 Oct;112(1):106-15. doi: 10.1016/j.pharmthera.2006.03.007. Epub 2006 May 23.


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a major incurable global health burden and will become the third largest cause of death in the world by 2020. It is currently believed that an exaggerated inflammatory response to inhaled irritants, in particular cigarette smoke, causes progressive airflow limitation. This inflammation, where macrophages and neutrophils are prominent, leads to oxidative stress, emphysema (loss of lung structure), small airways fibrosis and mucus hypersecretion. However, COPD responds poorly to current anti-inflammatory treatments including potent glucocorticosteroids, which produce little or no benefit. In this review we consider the therapeutic potential of targeting granulocyte macrophage-colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF) for the treatment of COPD. GM-CSF is a major regulator of both macrophage and neutrophil activation and survival in the lung-these cells are intimately linked to COPD. Animal data indicates that neutralisation of GM-CSF ameliorates experimental COPD and predicts therapeutic utility in treating stable COPD and treating exacerbations. As such, GM-CSF represents an attractive therapeutic target for the treatment of COPD.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Granulocyte-Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Lung / immunology
  • Pneumonia / drug therapy
  • Pneumonia / immunology
  • Pneumonia / prevention & control
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / drug therapy*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / immunology


  • Granulocyte-Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor