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Inhaled corticosteroids, blood eosinophils, and FEV1 decline in patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease in a large UK primary healthcare setting

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Mullerova, Hana 
Jarvis, Deborah 
Barnes, Neil 
Jones, Paul 


ICS-containing medications (ICS) slow rate of decline of FEV1. Blood eosinophil levels are associated with the degree of exacerbation reduction with ICS. We investigated whether FEV1 decline differs between patients with and without ICS, stratified by blood EOS level.

The UK Clinical Practice Research Datalink (primary care records) and Hospital Episode Statistics (hospital records) were used to identify COPD patients aged 35 years or older, who were current or ex-smokers with ≥2 FEV1 measurements ≥6 months apart. Prevalent ICS use and the nearest EOS count to start of follow-up was identified. Patients were classified at baseline as: higher stratum EOS (≥150cell/µl) on ICS; higher stratum EOS not on ICS; lower stratum EOS (<150cells/µl) on ICS; and lower stratum EOS not on ICS. In addition, an incident ICS cohort was used to investigate rate of FEV1 change by EOS and incident ICS use. Mixed effects linear regression was used to compare rates of FEV1 change in ml/year.

26,675 COPD patients met our inclusion criteria (median age 69, 45% female). The median duration of follow up was 4.2 years. The rate of FEV1 change in prevalent ICS users was slower than non-ICS users (-12.6ml/year vs. -21.1ml/year; p=0.001). Rate of FEV1 change was not significantly different when stratified by EOS level. The rate of FEV1 change in incident ICS users increased (+4.2ml/year) vs. -21.2ml/year loss in non-ICS users; p<0.001. In patients with high EOS, incident ICS patients showed an increase in FEV1 (+12 ml/yr) compared to non ICS users whose FEV1 decreased (-20.8ml/yr); p<0.001. No statistical difference was seen in low EOS patients. Incident ICS use is associated with an improvement in FEV1 change however, over time this association is lost.

Regardless of blood EOS level, prevalent ICS use is associated with slower rates of FEV1 decline in COPD.



Journal Title

International Journal of COPD

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Dove Medical Press

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Medical Research Council (MR/P021573/1)