Systemic Inflammation in Older Adults With Asthma-COPD Overlap Syndrome

Allergy Asthma Immunol Res. 2014 Jul;6(4):316-24. doi: 10.4168/aair.2014.6.4.316. Epub 2014 Jun 10.


Purpose: The role of systemic inflammation on asthma-COPD overlap syndrome is unknown. This study aimed to examine systemic inflammation in asthma-COPD overlap syndrome, and to identify associations between clinical characteristics and inflammatory mediators in asthma-COPD overlap syndrome.

Methods: In 108 adults older than 55 years comprising healthy controls (n=29), asthma (n=16), COPD (n=21) and asthma-COPD overlap syndrome (n=42), serum high sensitivity C-reactive protein and Interleukin 6 (IL-6) were assayed. Spirometry, induced sputum, quality of life, comorbidities and medications were assessed, and their associations with asthma-COPD overlap syndrome were analyzed using logistic regression. Associations between systemic inflammatory mediators and clinical characteristics were tested in multivariate linear regression models.

Results: Patients with asthma-COPD overlap syndrome had significantly elevated IL-6 levels compared with healthy controls and asthmatics. Age, comorbidity index and IL-6 level were independently associated with asthma-COPD overlap syndrome. FEV1% predicted was inversely associated with IL-6 level, and cardiovascular disease was associated with an increased IL-6 level. Systemic markers were not associated with airway inflammation.

Conclusions: Systemic inflammation is commonly present in asthma-COPD overlap syndrome, and asthma-COPD overlap syndrome resembled COPD in terms of systemic inflammation. IL-6 is a pivotal inflammatory mediator that may be involved in airflow obstruction and cardiovascular disease and may be an independent treatment target.

Keywords: Ageing; C-reactive protein; asthma; comorbidity; interleukin-6; obstructive airway disease.