Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) exacerbations are associated with increased airway and systemic inflammation, though relationships between exacerbation recovery, recurrent exacerbation and inflammation have not been previously reported. In the present study, inflammatory changes at COPD exacerbations were related to clinical nonrecovery and recurrent exacerbations within 50 days.
Serum interleukin (IL)-6, C-reactive protein (CRP), sputum IL-6 and IL-8 were measured in 73 COPD patients when stable, at exacerbation and at 7, 14 and 35 days post-exacerbation.
In 23% of patients, symptoms did not recover to baseline by day 35. These patients had persistently higher levels of serum CRP during the recovery period. A total of 22% of the patients who had recurrent exacerbations within 50 days had significantly higher levels of serum CRP at day 14, compared with those without recurrences: 8.8 mg·L−1 versus 3.4 mg·L−1. Frequent exacerbators had a smaller reduction in systemic inflammation between exacerbation onset and day 35 compared with infrequent exacerbators.
Nonrecovery of symptoms at chronic obstructive pulmonary disease exacerbation is associated with persistently heightened systemic inflammation. The time course of systemic inflammation following exacerbation is different between frequent and infrequent exacerbators. A high serum C-reactive protein concentration 14 days after an index exacerbation may be used as a predictor of recurrent exacerbations within 50 days.
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