Role of bacteria in acute exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis. 2008;3(3):463-7. doi: 10.2147/copd.s2776.


Background and study objective: Infections are major causes of acute exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) which result in significant mortality and morbidity. The primary aim of the study was to determine the microbiological spectrum including atypical agents in acute exacerbations. The secondary aim was to evaluate resistance patterns in the microorganisms.

Methods: The sputum culture of 75 patients admitted to our clinic from January 1, 1999 to December 31, 2002 was evaluated prospectively, for aerobic Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, and serologically for Chlamydophila pneumoniae and Mycoplasma pneumoniae. Sensitivity patterns in potentially pathogenic microorganisms (PPMs) were also investigated.

Results: An infectious agent was identified in 46 patients, either serologically or with sputum culture. Pathogens most commonly demonstrated were: Haemophilus influenzae (30%), Chlamydophila pneumoniae (17%), and Mycoplasma pneumoniae (9%). Mixed infections were diagnosed in 9 patients. PPMs showed a high resistance rate to commonly used antibiotics.

Conclusion: We have shown that microorganisms causing acute exacerbations of COPD are not only typical bacteria (46%) but also atypical pathogens (26%), with unpredictable high rates. Typical agents showed a high resistance to commonly used antibiotics.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Chlamydophila pneumoniae / drug effects
  • Chlamydophila pneumoniae / isolation & purification
  • Disease Progression
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Middle Aged
  • Mycoplasma pneumoniae / drug effects
  • Mycoplasma pneumoniae / isolation & purification
  • Prospective Studies
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / microbiology*
  • Sputum / microbiology