Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is characterized by both local and systemic inflammation. Because inflammation plays a critical role in the development, course and severity of COPD, inflammatory markers have the potential to improve the current diagnostic and prognostic approaches. Local inflammation in COPD is characterized by an infiltration of inflammatory cells, with an increased expression of cytokines, chemokines, enzymes, growth factors and adhesion molecules. Systemic low-grade inflammation is another common but nonspecific finding in COPD. Exacerbations of COPD are acute clinical events accompanied by an exaggerated inflammatory response. Future investigations in the field of COPD biomarkers should take into account different study designs and biochemical assays, disease course and duration, variations in symptom severity and timing of measurement.
Keywords: biomarkers; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; exacerbations; inflammation.