Systemic and airway inflammation and the presence of emphysema in patients with COPD

Respir Med. 2010 Feb;104(2):275-82. doi: 10.1016/j.rmed.2009.09.016. Epub 2009 Oct 24.


The aim of this study was to determine the impact of HRCT-confirmed emphysema on biomarkers evaluating airway and systemic inflammation in COPD patients. Forty-nine consecutive male COPD outpatients with stable COPD were divided in two groups according to the presence or absence of emphysema on HRCT. Patients underwent pulmonary function tests, plus assessment of exercise capacity, body composition and quality of life. Biomarkers were measured in serum (CRP, interleukin-6, TNF-alpha, leptin, adiponectin, osteocalcin, insulin growth factor-1, and systemic oxidative stress), in plasma (fibrinogen and VEGF) and in whole blood (B-type natriuretic peptide). TNF-alpha, 8-isoprostane and pH were additionally measured in exhaled breath condensate. Patients with emphysema had more severe lung function impairment, lower body-mass index and fat-free mass index, and poorer quality of life. Additionally, they presented increased systemic oxidative stress and plasma fibrinogen and lower BNP compared to patients without emphysema. After proper adjustment for disease severity, all differences remained with the exceptions of body-mass index, fat-free mass index and BNP. COPD patients with HRCT-confirmed emphysema present increased systemic oxidative stress and fibrinogen, suggesting that they may be more prone to the systemic consequences of COPD compared to patients without emphysema.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Body Mass Index
  • Exercise Tolerance
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / blood*
  • Male
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / blood
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / complications
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / physiopathology*
  • Pulmonary Emphysema / blood
  • Pulmonary Emphysema / complications
  • Pulmonary Emphysema / physiopathology*
  • Quality of Life
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Vital Capacity / physiology


  • Biomarkers