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Int J Respir Pulm Med. 2018;5(2). pii: 098. doi: 10.23937/2378-3516/1410098. Epub 2018 Nov 29.

A Comparison between Two Pathophysiologically Different yet Microbiologically Similar Lung Diseases: Cystic Fibrosis and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.

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Department of Molecular Genetics, Biochemistry and Microbiology, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, USA.
Department of Medicine, Cincinnati VA Medical Center, Cincinnati, USA.
Department of Pediatrics, Emory University, Atlanta, USA.
Department of Pediatrics, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, USA.


Cystic fibrosis (CF) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are chronic pulmonary diseases that affect ~70,000 and 251 million individuals worldwide, respectively. Although these two diseases have distinctly different pathophysiologies, both cause chronic respiratory insufficiency that erodes quality of life and causes significant morbidity and eventually death. In both CF and COPD, the respiratory microbiome plays a major contributing role in disease progression and morbidity. Pulmonary pathogens can differ dramatically during various stages of each disease and frequently cause acute worsening of lung function due to disease exacerbation. Despite some similarities, outcome and timing/type of exacerbation can also be quite different between CF and COPD. Given these clinical distinctions, both patients and physicians should be aware of emerging therapeutic options currently being offered or in development for the treatment of lung infections in individuals with CF and COPD. Although interventions are available that prolong life and mitigate morbidity, neither disorder is curable. Both acute and chronic pulmonary infections contribute to an inexorable downward course and may trigger exacerbations, culminating in loss of lung function or respiratory failure. Knowledge of the pulmonary pathogens causing these infections, their clinical presentation, consequences, and management are, therefore, critical. In this review, we compare and contrast CF and COPD, including underlying causes, general outcomes, features of the lung microbiome, and potential treatment strategies.


Biofilms; Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; Cystic fibrosis; Infection; Microbiology

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