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OBJECTIVE: We performed a review of studies of fluticasone propionate (FP)/salmeterol (SAL) (combination inhaled corticosteroid (ICS)/long-acting β2-agonist (LABA)) in patients with COPD, which measured baseline (pretreatment) blood eosinophil levels, to test whether blood eosinophil levels ≥2% were associated with a greater reduction in exacerbation rates with ICS therapy. METHODS: Three studies of ≥1-year duration met the inclusion criteria. Moderate and severe exacerbation rates were analysed according to baseline blood eosinophil levels (<2% vs ≥2%). At baseline, 57-75% of patients had ≥2% blood eosinophils. Changes in FEV1 and St George's Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ) scores were compared by eosinophil level. RESULTS: For patients with ≥2% eosinophils, FP/SAL was associated with significant reductions in exacerbation rates versus tiotropium (INSPIRE: n=719, rate ratio (RR)=0.75, 95% CI 0.60 to 0.92, p=0.006) and versus placebo (TRISTAN: n=1049, RR=0.63, 95% CI 0.50 to 0.79, p<0.001). No significant difference was seen in the <2% eosinophil subgroup in either study (INSPIRE: n=550, RR=1.18, 95% CI 0.92 to 1.51, p=0.186; TRISTAN: n=354, RR=0.99, 95% CI 0.67 to 1.47, p=0.957, respectively). In SCO30002 (n=373), no significant effects were observed (FP or FP/SAL vs placebo). No relationship was observed in any study between eosinophil subgroup and treatment effect on FEV1 and SGRQ. DISCUSSION: Baseline blood eosinophil levels may represent an informative marker for exacerbation reduction with ICS/LABA in patients with COPD and a history of moderate/severe exacerbations.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





118 - 125


COPD Exacerbations, Administration, Inhalation, Adrenergic beta-2 Receptor Agonists, Delayed-Action Preparations, Double-Blind Method, Eosinophils, Female, Fluticasone-Salmeterol Drug Combination, Forced Expiratory Volume, Glucocorticoids, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive, Retrospective Studies, Severity of Illness Index, Surveys and Questionnaires, Treatment Outcome