Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a chronic systemic inflammatory disease

Respiration. 2008;75(2):224-38. doi: 10.1159/000111820. Epub 2007 Nov 28.


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is characterized by chronic inflammation in both the airways causing airway obstruction and the lung tissues causing emphysema. The disease is induced by inhalation of noxious gasses and particulate matter resulting in a chronic persistent inflammatory response in the lung, and the extent of the inflammatory reaction correlates with the severity of the disease. This chronic inflammatory response in the lung is also associated with a significant systemic inflammatory response with downstream adverse clinical health effects. The systemic response in COPD is associated with mortality, specifically cardiovascular mortality. This review describes the nature of the systemic inflammatory response in COPD and the clinical manifestations associated with the systemic response, with a focus on the potential mechanisms for these adverse health effects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Inflammation / etiology
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Lung / pathology*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / complications
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / mortality
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / pathology*