Blood eosinophil levels as a biomarker in COPD

Respir Med. 2018 May;138:21-31. doi: 10.1016/j.rmed.2018.03.016. Epub 2018 Mar 15.


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a heterogeneous disorder and patients respond differently to treatment. Blood eosinophils are a potential biomarker to stratify patient subsets for COPD therapy. We reviewed the value of blood eosinophils in predicting exacerbation risk and response to corticosteroid treatment in the available literature (PubMed articles in English; keywords: "COPD" and "eosinophil"; published prior to May 2017). Overall, clinical data suggest that in patients with a history of COPD exacerbations, a higher blood eosinophil count predicts an increased risk of future exacerbations and is associated with improved response to treatment with inhaled corticosteroids (in combination with long-acting bronchodilator[s]). Blood eosinophils are therefore a promising biomarker for phenotyping patients with COPD, although prospective studies are needed to assess blood eosinophils as a biomarker of corticosteroid response for this.

Keywords: COPD; Corticosteroids; Eosinophils; Exacerbations.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Disease Progression
  • Eosinophils / pathology*
  • Glucocorticoids / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Leukocyte Count
  • Prognosis
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / blood*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / drug therapy*
  • Risk Assessment / methods
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Biomarkers
  • Glucocorticoids