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Asthma-COPD overlap syndrome: pathogenesis, clinical features, and therapeutic targets

Janice M Leung, Don D Sin
BMJ: British Medical Journal 2017 September 25, 358: j3772
28947632
Asthma-COPD overlap syndrome (ACOS) or asthma-COPD overlap captures the subset of patients with airways disease who have features of both asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Although definitions of ACOS vary, it is generally thought to encompass persistent airflow limitation in a patient older than 40 years of age with either a history of asthma or large bronchodilator reversibility. ACOS affects about a quarter of patients with COPD and almost a third of patients who previously had asthma. Compared with their counterparts with asthma or COPD alone, patients with ACOS have significantly worse respiratory symptoms, poorer quality of life, and increased risk of exacerbations and hospital admissions. Whether this condition emerges after gradual shifts in airway remodelling and inflammation in a patient with COPD, as the result of noxious exposures in a patient with asthma, or even as a de novo disease with its own pathology is yet to be determined. Nevertheless, using treatments developed for asthma or COPD that target eosinophilic, neutrophilic, or paucigranulocytic airway inflammation may be a helpful approach to these patients until further clinical trials can be performed.

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