Blood eosinophils as a predictor of treatment response in adults with difficult-to-treat chronic cough

ERJ Open Res. 2021 Nov 15;7(4):00432-2021. doi: 10.1183/23120541.00432-2021. eCollection 2021 Oct.


There is lack of evidence on the role of blood eosinophil count (BEC) as a predictor of treatment response in patients with chronic cough. The study aimed to evaluate BEC as a predictor of treatment response in all non-smoking adults with chronic cough and normal chest radiograph referred to cough clinic and in a subgroup of patients with chronic cough due to asthma or non-asthmatic eosinophilic bronchitis (NAEB). This prospective cohort study included 142 consecutive, non-smoking patients referred to our cough centre due to chronic cough. The management of chronic cough was performed according to the current recommendations. At least a 30-mm decrease of 100-mm visual analogue scale in cough severity and a 1.3 points improvement in Leicester Cough Questionnaire were classified as a good therapeutic response. There was a predominance of females (72.5%), median age 57.5 years with long-lasting, severe cough (median cough duration 60 months, severity 55/100 mm). Asthma and NAEB were diagnosed in 47.2% and 4.9% of patients, respectively. After 12-16 weeks of therapy, a good response to chronic cough treatment was found in 31.0% of all patients. A weak positive correlation was demonstrated between reduction in cough severity and BEC (r=0.28, p<0.001). Area under the curve for all patients with chronic cough was 0.62 with the optimal BEC cut-off for prediction of treatment response set at 237 cells·µL-1 and for patients with chronic cough due to asthma/NAEB was 0.68 (95% CI 0.55-0.81) with the cut-off at 150 cells·µL-1. BEC is a poor predictor of treatment response in adults with chronic cough treated in the cough centre.