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Thorax. 2006 Jul;61(7):568-571. Epub 2006 Jun 14.

Smoking related COPD and facial wrinkling: is there a common susceptibility?

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  • 1Department of Public Health and Primary Care, University of Cambridge, UK. Bip.Patel@rdehc-tr.swest.nhs.uk



Cigarette smoking causes accelerated facial wrinkling and predisposes to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). However, it has long been recognised that there is a subgroup of susceptible smokers who are at increased risk of developing airflow obstruction. We have tested the hypothesis that there is a common susceptibility for the development of COPD and facial wrinkling in cigarette smokers.


One hundred and forty nine current and ex-smokers were recruited from a family based study of COPD genetics, 68 (45.6%) of whom fulfilled the definition of COPD. 124 (83.2%) had no or minor facial wrinkling (Daniell <IV) and 25 (16.8%) were wrinkled (Daniell score >/=IV). Generalised estimating equations were used to adjust for familial correlations between related individuals and the potential confounding effects of age and pack years smoked.


Forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV(1)) was significantly lower in those with wrinkles than in those without (mean difference in FEV(1) % predicted -13.7%, 95% CI -27.5 to 0.0, p = 0.05) and facial wrinkling was associated with a substantially increased risk of COPD (adjusted OR 5.0, 95% CI 1.3 to 18.5, p<0.02). The Daniell score correlated with the extent of emphysema on the CT scan (p<0.05) and facial wrinkling was also associated with a greater risk of more extensive emphysema (adjusted OR 3.0, 95% CI 1.0 to 9.3, p = 0.05).


Facial wrinkling is associated with COPD in smokers, and both disease processes may share a common susceptibility. Facial wrinkling in smokers may therefore be a biomarker of susceptibility to COPD.

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