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Use of inhaled corticosteroids and risk of acquiring Pseudomonas aeruginosa in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
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  • Published on:
    Author response: Eosinophils as covariates
    • Josefin Eklöf, Medical doctor, PhD Respiratory Medicine Section, Department of Internal Medicine, Herlev-Gentofte Hospital, Denmark
    • Other Contributors:
      • Pradeesh Sivapalan, Medical doctor, PhD
      • Jens-Ulrik S Jensen, Medical doctor, PhD, Professor
      • Jens-Ulrik S Jensen, Medical doctor, PhD, Professor
      • Jens-Ulrik S Jensen, Medical doctor, PhD, Professor

    We thank James R Camp for his response and interest in our study. To answer the question posed directly, we did not use blood eosinophils as a covariate in the model, since leukocyte differential count is not routinely made at every outpatient visit for COPD patients in Denmark.

    The relation between blood eosinophils in COPD and pulmonary infections is not a trivial one. As mentioned by James R Camp, mouse models indicate that eosinophils have antibacterial properties in vitro (1). However, few clinical studies have included blood eosinophil counts as a risk factor of pneumonia in COPD, mostly showing either a weak or no association (2,3).

    Eosinophils from human blood have been demonstrated to have bactericidal effects against S. aureus and E. coli, but noteworthy, this effect was not as potent as the neutrophils (4). Additionally, severe acute bacterial infection like sepsis almost uniformly causes eosinopenia (5,6) and experimental lipopolysaccharide injection in healthy humans and diabetic humans cause profound and long-lasting eosinopenia (7). This is not easily comprehensible if the eosinophils are a needed part of the innate host immune response to bacterial infection.

    An alternative explanation for a possible association could be that eosinophils and neutrophils act in bacterial infection in a complex interplay, while regulating and adjusting the response of each other. To support this, it has been demonstrated that integrin β chain-2 (CD18),...

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    Conflict of Interest:
    PS reports personal fees from Novartis and Boehringer Ingelheim, outside the submitted work.
  • Published on:
    Eosinophils as covariates

    We recently read the recent publication by Elköf and colleagues in the recent issue of Thorax titled ‘Use of inhaled corticosteroids and risk of acquiring Pseudomonas aeruginosa in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease’(1) with great interest. The paper highlights an important clinical observation in a well-defined cohort.

    We were interested that Elköf and colleagues, tentatively discuss that biological mechanisms resulting from ICS alterations on the immune system may be an explanation for a change in the microbial composition in the airways(1). As the authors discussed, eosinophilic inflammation in COPD identifies a group of patients with ICS responsiveness(2). In the mouse model, there are data examining that eosinophils have anti-microbial properties(3). Access to eosinophil counts from this cohort may be invaluable in unravelling the relationship of eosinophils and COPD and could provide insight into the impact of steroids in bacterial infection. Did the authors investigate the peripheral blood eosinophil count as a covariate in their main analyses?


    1. Eklöf J, Ingebrigtsen TS, Sørensen R, Saeed MI, Alispahic IA, Sivapalan P, et al. Use of inhaled corticosteroids and risk of acquiring <em>Pseudomonas aeruginosa</em> in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Thorax. 2021:thoraxjnl-2021-217160.
    2. Bafadhel M, Peterson S, De Blas MA, Calverley PM, Rennard SI, Richter K, et al....

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    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.