CRP-guided antibiotic treatment in acute exacerbations of COPD in hospital admissions

Eur Respir J. 2019 May 23;53(5):1802014. doi: 10.1183/13993003.02014-2018. Print 2019 May.


The role of antibiotics in acute exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is controversial and a biomarker identifying patients who benefit from antibiotics is mandatory. We performed a randomised, controlled trial in patients with acute exacerbations of COPD, comparing C-reactive protein (CRP)-guided antibiotic treatment to patient reported symptoms in accordance with the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) strategy, in order to show a reduction in antibiotic prescription.Patients hospitalised with acute exacerbations of COPD were randomised to receive antibiotics based either on the GOLD strategy or according to the CRP strategy (CRP ≥50 mg·L-1).In total, 101 patients were randomised to the CRP group and 119 to the GOLD group. Fewer patients in the CRP group were treated with antibiotics compared to the GOLD group (31.7% versus 46.2%, p=0.028; adjusted odds ratio (OR) 0.178, 95% CI 0.077-0.411, p=0.029). The 30-day treatment failure rate was nearly equal (44.5% in the CRP group versus 45.5% in the GOLD-group, p=0.881; adjusted OR 1.146, 95% CI 0.649-1.187, p=0.630), as was the time to next exacerbation (32 days in the CRP group versus 28 days in the GOLD group, p=0.713; adjusted hazard ratio 0.878, 95% CI 0.649-1.187, p=0.398). Length of stay was similar in both groups (7 days in the CRP group versus 6 days in the GOLD group, p=0.206). On day-30, no difference in symptom score, quality of life or serious adverse events was detected.Use of CRP as a biomarker to guide antibiotic treatment in severe acute exacerbations of COPD leads to a significant reduction in antibiotic treatment. In the present study, no differences in adverse events between both groups were found. Further research is needed for the generalisability of these findings.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • C-Reactive Protein / analysis*
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Netherlands
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / blood
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / drug therapy*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / mortality
  • Quality of Life
  • Survival Analysis


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • C-Reactive Protein