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Respir Res. 2010 May 25;11:63. doi: 10.1186/1465-9921-11-63.

Systemic inflammation in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a population-based study.

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Pneumology Service, Hospital Universitario La Paz, IdiPAZ, Madrid, Spain.



Elevated circulating levels of several inflammatory biomarkers have been described in selected patient populations with COPD, although less is known about their population-based distribution. The aims of this study were to compare the levels of several systemic biomarkers between stable COPD patients and healthy subjects from a population-based sample, and to assess their distribution according to clinical variables.


This is a cross-sectional study design of participants in the EPI-SCAN study (40-80 years of age). Subjects with any other condition associated with an inflammatory process were excluded. COPD was defined as a post-bronchodilator FEV1/FVC < 0.70. The reference group was made of non-COPD subjects without respiratory symptoms, associated diseases or prescription of medication. Subjects were evaluated with quality-of-life questionnaires, spirometry and 6-minute walk tests. Serum C-reactive protein (CRP), tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha, interleukins (IL-6 and IL-8), alpha1-antitrypsin, fibrinogen, albumin and nitrites/nitrates (NOx) were measured.


We compared 324 COPD patients and 110 reference subjects. After adjusting for gender, age, BMI and tobacco consumption, COPD patients showed higher levels of CRP (0.477 +/- 0.023 vs. 0.376 +/- 0.041 log mg/L, p = 0.049), TNF-alpha (13.12 +/- 0.59 vs. 10.47 +/- 1.06 pg/mL, p = 0.033), IL-8 (7.56 +/- 0.63 vs. 3.57 +/- 1.13 pg/ml; p = 0.033) and NOx (1.42 +/- 0.01 vs. 1.36 +/- 0.02 log nmol/l; p = 0.048) than controls. In COPD patients, serum concentrations of some biomarkers were related to severity and their exercise tolerance was related to serum concentrations of CRP, IL-6, IL-8, fibrinogen and albumin.


Our results provide population-based evidence that COPD is independently associated with low-grade systemic inflammation, with a different inflammatory pattern than that observed in healthy subjects.

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