Airway-Occluding Mucus Plugs and Mortality in Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

פוסט זה זמין גם ב: עברית

Key PointsQuestion  Are mucus plugs that occlude airways identified on computed tomography scans in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) associated with increased all-cause mortality?

Findings  In this observational study that included 4363 patients with COPD, the presence of mucus plugs occluding medium- to large-sized airways (ie, approximately 2- to 10-mm lumen diameter) was significantly associated with higher risk of all-cause mortality (adjusted hazard ratio for mucus plugs affecting 1 to 2 vs 0 lung segments, 1.15; adjusted HR for mucus plugs affecting ≥3 vs 0 lung segments, 1.24).

Meaning  Mucus plugs that occluded medium- to large-sized airways in patients with COPD were associated with increased all-cause mortality.


Importance  Airway mucus plugs are common in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); however, the association of airway mucus plugging and mortality in patients with COPD is unknown.

Objective  To determine whether airway mucus plugs identified on chest computed tomography (CT) were associated with increased all-cause mortality.

Design, Setting, and Participants  Observational retrospective analysis of prospectively collected data of patients with a diagnosis of COPD in the Genetic Epidemiology of COPD cohort. Participants were non-Hispanic Black or White individuals, aged 45 to 80 years, who smoked at least 10 pack-years. Participants were enrolled at 21 centers across the US between November 2007 and April 2011 and were followed up through August 31, 2022.

Exposures  Mucus plugs that completely occluded airways on chest CT scans, identified in medium- to large-sized airways (ie, approximately 2- to 10-mm lumen diameter) and categorized as affecting 0, 1 to 2, or 3 or more lung segments.

Main Outcomes and Measures  The primary outcome was all-cause mortality, assessed with proportional hazard regression analysis. Models were adjusted for age, sex, race and ethnicity, body mass index, pack-years smoked, current smoking status, forced expiratory volume in the first second of expiration, and CT measures of emphysema and airway disease.

Results  Among the 4483 participants with COPD, 4363 were included in the primary analysis (median age, 63 years [IQR, 57-70 years]; 44% were women). A total of 2585 (59.3%), 953 (21.8%), and 825 (18.9%) participants had mucus plugs in 0, 1 to 2, and 3 or more lung segments, respectively. During a median 9.5-year follow-up, 1769 participants (40.6%) died. The mortality rates were 34.0% (95% CI, 32.2%-35.8%), 46.7% (95% CI, 43.5%-49.9%), and 54.1% (95% CI, 50.7%-57.4%) in participants who had mucus plugs in 0, 1 to 2, and 3 or more lung segments, respectively. The presence of mucus plugs in 1 to 2 vs 0 and 3 or more vs 0 lung segments was associated with an adjusted hazard ratio of death of 1.15 (95% CI, 1.02-1.29) and 1.24 (95% CI, 1.10-1.41), respectively.

Conclusions and Relevance  In participants with COPD, the presence of mucus plugs that obstructed medium- to large-sized airways was associated with higher all-cause mortality compared with patients without mucus plugging on chest CT scans.

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