Clinical Edge

Summaries of Must-Read Clinical Literature, Guidelines, and FDA Actions

Clinical Epidemiology of COPD in COPDGene Study

Age, gender, and race all influence the natural history of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), along with the impact of comorbid conditions, chronic bronchitis, exacerbations, and asthma-COPD overlap (ACO). This according to a recent review that examined the major advances in the clinical epidemiology of COPD from the first 10 years of the COPDGene study, a longitudinal study of >10,000 subjects, including smokers with a ≥10 pack year history with and without COPD and healthy never smokers, to characterize disease-related phenotypes and explore associations to susceptibility genes. Among the highlights:

  • In COPDGene, historical exacerbation rates were nearly twice as high in those with chronic bronchitis (CB) as in those without CB.
  • Those with ACO represent a distinct high-risk population with a high propensity for exacerbations.
  • There are important gender and racial differences in the phenotypic expression of COPD. These differences translate into higher risk of disease severity, particularly in women.
  • Understanding the influence of various comorbidities should be an integral part of the care of COPD patients.


Maselli DJ, et al. Clinical epidemiology of COPD – Insights from 10 years of the COPDGene study. [Published online ahead of print May 30, 2019]. CHEST. doi: 10.1016/j.chest.2019.04.135.