COPD Exacerbation-Related Pathogens and Previous COPD Treatment

Yun Su Sim, Jin Hwa Lee, Eung Gu Lee, Joon Young Choi, Chang Hoon Lee, Tai Joon An, Yeonhee Park, Young Soon Yoon, Joo Hun Park, Kwang Ha Yoo

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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.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111
JournalJournal of Clinical Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2023

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  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • inhaler
  • respiratory pathogen


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