Clinical Approach to the Therapy of Asthma-COPD Overlap

Chest. 2019 Jan;155(1):168-177. doi: 10.1016/j.chest.2018.07.028. Epub 2018 Aug 2.


Over the last few years, there has been a renewed interest in patients with characteristics of both asthma and COPD. Although the precise definition of asthma-COPD overlap (ACO) is still controversial, patients with overlapping features are frequently encountered in clinical practice, and may indeed have worse clinical outcomes and increased health-care utilization than those with asthma or COPD. Therefore, there is a critical need to set a framework for the therapeutic approach of such patients. There are key distinctions in the therapy between asthma and COPD, particularly regarding the initial choice of therapy. However, there is considerable overlap in the use of existing medications for both diseases. Furthermore, novel therapies approved for asthma, such as monoclonal antibodies, may have a role in patients with COPD and ACO. The use of biomarkers, such as peripheral blood eosinophils, exhaled nitric oxide, and serum IgE, may help in selecting appropriate therapies for ACO. In this review, we provide an overview of available treatments for both asthma and COPD and explore their potential role in the treatment of patients with ACO.

Keywords: COPD; asthma; overlap; therapy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic beta-2 Receptor Agonists / therapeutic use*
  • Asthma / complications
  • Asthma / drug therapy*
  • Disease Management*
  • Glucocorticoids / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Muscarinic Antagonists / therapeutic use*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / complications
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / drug therapy*


  • Adrenergic beta-2 Receptor Agonists
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Muscarinic Antagonists