Blood eosinophils and inhaled corticosteroid/long-acting β-2 agonist efficacy in COPD

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We performed a review of studies of fluticasone propionate (FP)/salmeterol (SAL) (combination inhaled corticosteroid (ICS)/long-acting β2-agonist (LABA)) in patients with COPD, which measured baseline (pretreatment) blood eosinophil levels, to test whether blood eosinophil levels ≥2% were associated with a greater reduction in exacerbation rates with ICS therapy.


Three studies of ≥1-year duration met the inclusion criteria. Moderate and severe exacerbation rates were analysed according to baseline blood eosinophil levels (<2% vs ≥2%). At baseline, 57–75% of patients had ≥2% blood eosinophils. Changes in FEV1 and St George's Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ) scores were compared by eosinophil level.


For patients with ≥2% eosinophils, FP/SAL was associated with significant reductions in exacerbation rates versus tiotropium (INSPIRE: n=719, rate ratio (RR)=0.75, 95% CI 0.60 to 0.92, p=0.006) and versus placebo (TRISTAN: n=1049, RR=0.63, 95% CI 0.50 to 0.79, p<0.001). No significant difference was seen in the <2% eosinophil subgroup in either study (INSPIRE: n=550, RR=1.18, 95% CI 0.92 to 1.51, p=0.186; TRISTAN: n=354, RR=0.99, 95% CI 0.67 to 1.47, p=0.957, respectively). In SCO30002 (n=373), no significant effects were observed (FP or FP/SAL vs placebo). No relationship was observed in any study between eosinophil subgroup and treatment effect on FEV1 and SGRQ.


Baseline blood eosinophil levels may represent an informative marker for exacerbation reduction with ICS/LABA in patients with COPD and a history of moderate/severe exacerbations.

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