Purpose of review
The review will provide an update on the pathophysiology and studies of inflammation associated with the asthma
–chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) overlap syndrome (ACOS) and the mechanism(s) responsible for persistent expiratory airflow limitation in never-smoked asthma
patients who develop loss of lung elastic recoil consistent with an asthma
–COPD clinical phenotype (ACOS in nonsmokers).
Patients with a clinical diagnosis of ACOS have more frequent respiratory exacerbations and hospitalizations than COPD patients without ACOS. ACOS patients should be treated with inhaled corticosteroids, short and long-acting β2
-agonist, and long-acting muscarinic receptor antagonist. Biomarker work suggests that a molecular phenotype of ACOS (e.g., elevated markers of eosinophilic or type 2 inflammation) incompletely corresponds to clinical phenotypes. Recently, we reported sentinel observation of unsuspected mild diffuse centrilobular emphysema
in never-smoked asthma
patients at autopsy, despite mild changes in lung computed tomography and normal diffusing capacity.
Recent studies have shown that subgroups of COPD and asthma
patients may have overlapping immune responses. Never-smoked asthma
patients may have persistent expiratory airflow limitation because of loss of lung elastic recoil. This may be because of unsuspected centrilobular emphysema
detected at autopsy, and not easily diagnosed on lung computed tomography and diffusing capacity.