Airway wall thickness and emphysema contribute to airflow limitation. We examined their association with lung function decline and development of airflow limitation in 2021 male smokers with and without airflow limitation. Airway wall thickness and emphysema were quantified on chest computed tomography and expressed as the square root of wall area of a 10-mm lumen perimeter (Pi10) and the 15th percentile method (Perc15), respectively. Baseline and follow-up (median (interquartile range) 3 (2.9-3.1) years) spirometry was available. Pi10 and Perc15 correlated with baseline forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1) (r= -0.49 and 0.11, respectively (p<0.001)). Multiple linear regression showed that Pi10 and Perc15 at baseline were associated with a lower FEV1 after follow-up (p<0.05). For each sd increase in Pi10 and decrease in Perc15 the FEV1 decreased by 20 mL and 30.2 mL, respectively. The odds ratio for developing airflow limitation after 3 years was 2.45 for a 1-mm higher Pi10 and 1.46 for a 10-HU lower Perc15 (p<0.001). A greater degree of airway wall thickness and emphysema was associated with a higher FEV1 decline and development of airflow limitation after 3 years of follow-up.
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