The Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease 2021 Report recommends inhaled corticosteroid (ICS)-containing regimens as part of pharmacological treatment in patients with chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD) and frequent exacerbations, particularly with eosinophilic inflammation. However, real-world studies reveal overprescription of ICS in COPD, irrespective of disease presentation and inflammatory endotype, leading to increased risk of side effects, mainly respiratory infections. The optimal use of ICS in COPD therefore remains an area of intensive research, and additional biomarkers of benefit and risk are needed. Although the interplay between inflammation and infection in COPD is widely acknowledged, the role of the microbiome in shaping lower airway inflammation has only recently been explored. Next-generation sequencing has revealed that COPD disease progression and exacerbation frequency are associated with changes in the composition of the lung microbiome, and that the immunosuppressive effects of ICS can contribute to potentially deleterious airway microbiota changes by increasing bacterial load and the abundance of potentially pathogenic taxa such as Streptococcus and Haemophilus. Here, we explore the relationship between microbiome, inflammation, ICS use and disease phenotype. This relationship may inform the benefit:risk assessment of ICS use in patients with COPD and lead to more personalised pharmacological management.
- Inhaled corticosteroids
- Lung microbiome