ICS Use May Modify FEV1 Decline in α1-Antitrypsin Deficiency Patients with Relatively High Blood Eosinophils

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Abstract

Background: α1-Antitrypsin deficiency (AATD) predisposes to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). In COPD unrelated to AATD, the role of a higher blood eosinophil count in disease and subsequent personalization of therapy has recently received much attention. We sought to investigate this concept in patients with AATD-associated COPD. Objectives: The study aims to evaluate eosinophilia status against outcomes including mortality and FEV1 decline in patients with AATD. Methods: All patients with PiSZ and PiZZ genotypes were identified from the UK AATD registry. The participants were substratified according to inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) use. Blood eosinophil counts were assessed from baseline and annually during follow-up (range 1–18 years). Eosinophilia was defined as a level >0.2 × 109/L, and classified by the frequency of such counts into “always,” “intermittent,” or “never present.” Univariate and multivariate analyses were conducted. Results: In total, 646 participants were included, 53.9% of whom demonstrated intermittent and 7.4% persistent eosinophilia. Survival did not differ according to eosinophilic group (p > 0.05). Those with persistent eosinophilia showed a slower FEV1 decline (p < 0.001). There was no clear association with exacerbation frequency. Patients on ICS at baseline were more likely to be eosinophilic (p = 0.002) and having a lower FEV1 (p < 0.001) and greater pack-year exposure (16.5 vs. 7.8 pack-years, p < 0.001). When the multivariate analyses of FEV1 decline were stratified for baseline ICS use, the association of persistent eosinophilia with slower decline persisted in those on ICS. Conclusions: Blood eosinophil levels persistently >0.2 × 109/L may be an indication for ICS use in PiZZ AATD in order to reduce FEV1 decline.

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