Inhaled Corticosteroid Treatment in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): Boon or Bane?

Alan G. Kaplan
2020 Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine  
Inhaled corticosteroid (ICS)-based therapy is often used for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). However, this approach is under scrutiny because of ICS overuse in patients for whom it is not recommended and because of concerns about adverse events, particularly pneumonia, with long-term ICS use. Evidence suggests ICS may be beneficial in specific patients, namely, those with high blood eosinophil counts (eg, ≥300 cells/µL) or who are at a high risk of exacerbations.
more » ... rding to the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) 2020 ABCD assessment tool, these patients belong in group D. For these patients, recommended initial treatment includes ICS in combination with long-acting β2-agonists (LABAs) when blood eosinophil counts are ≥300 cells/µL or LABA + long-acting muscarinic antagonist (LAMA) when patients are highly symptomatic, that is, with greater dyspnea and/or exercise limitation. Follow-up treatments for patients with persistent dyspnea and/or exacerbations may include LABA + ICS, LABA + LAMA, or LABA + LAMA + ICS, with use of ICS being guided by blood eosinophil counts. In this review, differences in the inflammatory mechanism underlying COPD and asthma and the role of ICS treatment in COPD are summarized. Furthermore, findings from recent clinical trials where use of ICS-based dual or triple therapy in COPD was compared with LABA + LAMA therapy and trials in which ICS withdrawal was evaluated in patients with COPD are reviewed. Finally, a step-by-step guide for ICS withdrawal in patients who are unlikely to benefit from this treatment is proposed. A video of the author discussing the overall takeaway of the review article could be downloaded from the link provided:
doi:10.3122/jabfm.2020.02.190227 pmid:32179613 fatcat:ybl2arg3fvdp5dgwuqobvigdmm