Increased chest CT derived bone and muscle measures capture markers of improved morbidity and mortality in COPD

Respir Res. 2022 Nov 15;23(1):311. doi: 10.1186/s12931-022-02237-w.


Background: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a disease of accelerated aging and is associated with comorbid conditions including osteoporosis and sarcopenia. These extrapulmonary conditions are highly prevalent yet frequently underdiagnosed and overlooked by pulmonologists in COPD treatment and management. There is evidence supporting a role for bone-muscle crosstalk which may compound osteoporosis and sarcopenia risk in COPD. Chest CT is commonly utilized in COPD management, and we evaluated its utility to identify low bone mineral density (BMD) and reduced pectoralis muscle area (PMA) as surrogates for osteoporosis and sarcopenia. We then tested whether BMD and PMA were associated with morbidity and mortality in COPD.

Methods: BMD and PMA were analyzed from chest CT scans of 8468 COPDGene participants with COPD and controls (smoking and non-smoking). Multivariable regression models tested the relationship of BMD and PMA with measures of function (6-min walk distance (6MWD), handgrip strength) and disease severity (percent emphysema and lung function). Multivariable Cox proportional hazards models were used to evaluate the relationship between sex-specific quartiles of BMD and/or PMA derived from non-smoking controls with all-cause mortality.

Results: COPD subjects had significantly lower BMD and PMA compared with controls. Higher BMD and PMA were associated with increased physical function and less disease severity. Participants with the highest BMD and PMA quartiles had a significantly reduced mortality risk (36% and 46%) compared to the lowest quartiles.

Conclusions: These findings highlight the potential for CT-derived BMD and PMA to characterize osteoporosis and sarcopenia using equipment available in the pulmonary setting.

Keywords: COPD; Osteoporosis; Sarcopenia; Screening.

Publication types

  • Letter

MeSH terms

  • Bone Density
  • Female
  • Hand Strength
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Morbidity
  • Muscles
  • Osteoporosis* / complications
  • Osteoporosis* / diagnostic imaging
  • Osteoporosis* / epidemiology
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive*
  • Sarcopenia* / diagnostic imaging
  • Sarcopenia* / epidemiology
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / adverse effects