(RxWiki News) Because of five to 10 times the number of auto-antibodies in the blood of patients with moderate to severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), researchers think the disease may be an auto-immunity problem.
Researchers in Spain analyzed 328 patients at nine hospitals with clinically stable COPD three months after hospitalization from the first instance with an exacerbation of the disease. The control group consisted of 67 healthy volunteers from primary care clinics, blood donors and hospital workers. The researchers found between one third and one quarter of COPD patients presented abnormal levels of circulating auto-antibodies in the blood, providing "further support for the hypothesis that the pathogenesis of COPD involves an auto-immune component," according to Jaume Sauleda M.D., coordinator of respiratory medicine department, Hospital Universitari Son Dureta, Palma Mallorca, Spain.
Some 34 percent of COPD patients had abnormally high levels of anti-tissue antibodies (AT), which was about 11 times higher than the control group's levels.
Dr. Sauleda said if future research confirms the suspected auto-immune component of COPD, it could lead to future clinical trials analyzing different therapies, such as immunomodulators (substances that affect the immune system).
COPD, a progressive disease that makes it difficult to breathe, is the fourth-leading cause of death world-wide, and is becoming increasingly prevalent as generations of heavy smokers age.