We evaluated whether the pathogens identified during acute exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (AE-COPD) are associated with the COPD medications used in the 6 months before AE-COPD. We collected the medical records of patients diagnosed with AE-COPD at 28 hospitals between January 2008 and December 2019 and retrospectively analyzed them. Microorganisms identified at the time of AE-COPD were analyzed according to the use of inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) and systemic steroid after adjusting for COPD severity. We evaluated 1177 patients with AE-COPD and available medication history. The mean age of the patients was 73.9 ± 9.2 years, and 83% were males. The most frequently identified bacteria during AE-COPD were Pseudomonas aeruginosa (10%), followed by Mycoplasma pneumoniae (9.4%), and Streptococcus pneumoniae (5.1%), whereas the most commonly identified viruses were rhinovirus (11%) and influenza A (11%). During AE-COPD, bacteria were more frequently identified in the ICS than non-ICS group (p = 0.009), and in the systemic steroid than non-systemic steroid group (p < 0.001). In patients who used systemic steroids before AE-COPD, the risk of detecting Pseudomonas aeruginosa was significantly higher during AE-COPD (OR 1.619, CI 1.007–2.603, p = 0.047), but ICS use did not increase the risk of Pseudomonas detection. The risk of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) detection was low when ICS was used (OR 0.492, CI 0.244–0.988, p = 0.045). COPD patients who used ICS had a lower rate of RSV infection and similar rate of P. aeruginosa infection during AE-COPD compared to patients who did not use ICS. However, COPD patients who used systemic steroids within 6 months before AE-COPD had an increased risk of P. aeruginosa infection. Therefore, anti-pseudomonal antibiotics should be considered in patients with AE-COPD who have used systemic steroids.
- chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- respiratory pathogen