Proposed Etiotypes for COPD: Controversial issues

Tuberc Respir Dis (Seoul). 2024 Feb 6. doi: 10.4046/trd.2023.0194. Online ahead of print.


The 2023 Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) revised the definition of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) to broadly include a variety of etiologies. A new taxonomy, composed of etiotypes, aims to highlight the heterogeneity in causes and pathogenesis of COPD, allowing more personalized management strategies and emphasizing the need for targeted research to understand and manage COPD better. However, controversy arises with including some diseases under the umbrella term of COPD, as their clinical presentations and treatments differ from classical COPD, which is smoking-related. COPD due to infection (COPD-I) and COPD due to environmental exposure (COPD-P) are classifications within the new taxonomy. Some disease entities in these categories show distinct clinical features and may not benefit from conventional COPD treatments, raising questions about their classification as COPD subtypes. There is also controversy regarding whether bronchiectasis with airflow limitations should be classified as an etiotype of COPD. This article discusses controversial issues associated with the proposed etiotypes for COPD in terms of COPD-I, COPD-P, and bronchiectasis. While the updated COPD definition by GOLD 2023 is a major step towards recognizing the disease's complexity, it also raises questions about the classification of related respiratory conditions. This highlights the need for further research to improve our understanding and approach to COPD management.