[Phenotypic heterogeneity of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease]

Arch Bronconeumol. 2009 Mar;45(3):129-38. doi: 10.1016/j.arbres.2008.10.001. Epub 2009 Feb 25.
[Article in Spanish]


A functional definition of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) based on airflow limitation has largely dominated the field. However, a view has emerged that COPD involves a complex array of cellular, organic, functional, and clinical events, with a growing interest in disentangling the phenotypic heterogeneity of COPD. The present review is based on the opinion of the authors, who have extensive research experience in several aspects of COPD. The starting assumption of the review is that current knowledge on the pathophysiology and clinical features of COPD allows us to classify phenotypic information in terms of the following dimensions: respiratory symptoms and health status, acute exacerbations, lung function, structural changes, local and systemic inflammation, and systemic effects. Twenty-six phenotypic traits were identified and assigned to one of the 6 dimensions. For each dimension, a summary is provided of the best evidence on the relationships among phenotypic traits, in particular among those corresponding to different dimensions, and on the relationship between these traits and relevant events in the natural history of COPD. The information has been organized graphically into a phenotypic matrix where each cell representing a pair of phenotypic traits is linked to relevant references. The information provided has the potential to increase our understanding of the heterogeneity of COPD phenotypes and help us plan future studies on aspects that are as yet unexplored.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Phenotype
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / complications
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / genetics*