Determinants of blood eosinophil levels in the general population and patients with COPD: a population-based, epidemiological study

Respir Res. 2022 Mar 5;23(1):49. doi: 10.1186/s12931-022-01965-3.


Background: Blood eosinophils are considered a biomarker for the treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Population-based studies are needed to better understand the determinants of the blood eosinophil count (BEC) in individuals with and without COPD.

Methods: EPISCAN II is a multicentre, cross-sectional, population-based epidemiological study aimed at investigating the prevalence and determinants of COPD in Spain. Study subjects were randomly selected from the general population, and COPD was defined by a post-bronchodilator FEV1/FVC < 0.7. For the pre-specified outcomes related to BEC, the first 35 COPD and 35 non-COPD subjects were consecutively recruited in 12 of the participating centres with the objective of analysing 400 individuals in each group. Baseline BEC and its association with demographic, clinical and functional variables were analysed.

Results: A total of 326 COPD and 399 non-COPD subjects were included in the analysis. The mean age (standard deviation [SD]) was 63.2 years (11.0), 46.3% were male, and 27.6% were active smokers. BEC was significantly higher in individuals with COPD [192 cells/μL (SD: 125) vs. 160 cells/μL (SD: 114); p = 0.0003]. In a stepwise multivariate model, being male, active smoker and having a previous diagnosis of asthma were independently associated with having a higher BEC.

Conclusions: This population-based study estimated the distribution of eosinophils in the healthy adult population and concluded that COPD patients have a significantly higher BEC. Male sex, active smoking and concomitant asthma were significantly associated with a higher BEC.

Keywords: Biomarkers; Computed tomography; Epidemiology; Imaging population.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Eosinophilia / blood
  • Eosinophilia / epidemiology*
  • Eosinophilia / etiology
  • Eosinophils / pathology*
  • Female
  • Forced Expiratory Volume
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Morbidity / trends
  • Population Surveillance*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / blood*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / complications
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / physiopathology
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Spain / epidemiology


  • Biomarkers