Purpose: The underlying biological mechanisms of the frequent exacerbator phenotype of COPD remain unclear. We compared systemic neutrophil function in COPD patients with or without frequent exacerbations. Methods: Whole blood from COPD frequent exacerbators (defined as ≥2 moderate–severe exacerbations in the previous 2 years) and non-exacerbators (no exacerbations in the preceding 2 years) was assayed for neutrophil function. Neutrophil function in healthy ex-smoking volunteers was also measured as a control (reference) group. Results: A total of 52 subjects were included in this study: 26 frequent exacerbators, 18 non-exacerbators and 8 healthy controls. COPD frequent exacerbators had blunted blood neutrophil fMLP-stimulated oxidative burst compared to both non-exacerbators (p < 0.01) and healthy controls (p < 0.001). There were no differences between COPD frequent exacerbators and non-exacerbators in blood neutrophil PMA-stimulated oxidative burst, but both COPD groups had reduced responses compared to healthy controls (p < 0.001). Bacterial-stimulated neutrophil degranulation was greater in frequent exacerbators than non-exacerbators (p < 0.05). Conclusion: This study is the first to report aberrant receptor-mediated blood neutrophil function in the frequent exacerbator of COPD.
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Polymorphonuclear leukocytes
- Reactive oxygen species