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Eosinophils are innate immune cells that, under certain conditions, can be recruited to the lungs, where they have an incompletely understood role in health and disease. Eosinophils have been found in the airways, tissues, and circulation of patients with COPD, during both stable disease and exacerbations. Epidemiological studies and post-hoc analyses of clinical trials of corticosteroid treatment for COPD have shown that the blood eosinophil count is associated with the risk of COPD exacerbations, mortality, decline in FEV1, and response to both inhaled and systemic corticosteroids. Further studies are urgently needed to explore the contribution of eosinophils to the mechanism of disease in COPD and to identify their association with levels of clinical risk. In this review, we explore the role of the eosinophil as a biomarker and mediator of disease in COPD.

Original publication




Journal article


The Lancet. Respiratory medicine

Publication Date





747 - 759


Respiratory Medicine Unit, Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK. Electronic address: