Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is currently the third most common cause of global mortality. Acute exacerbations of COPD frequently necessitate hospital admission to enable more intensive therapy, incurring significant healthcare costs. COPD exacerbations are also associated with accelerated lung function decline and increased risk of mortality. Until recently, bacterial pathogens were believed to be responsible for the majority of disease exacerbations. However, with the advent of cultureindependent molecular diagnostic techniques it is now estimated that viruses are detected during half of all COPD exacerbations and are associated with poorer clinical outcomes. Human rhinovirus, respiratory syncytial virus and influenza are the most commonly detected viruses during exacerbation. The role of persistent viral infection (adenovirus) has also been postulated as a potential pathogenic mechanism in COPD. Viral pathogens may play an important role in driving COPD progression by acting as triggers for exacerbation and subsequent lung function decline whilst the role of chronic viral infection remains a plausible hypothesis that requires further evaluation. There are currently no effective antiviral strategies for patients with COPD. Herein, we focus on the current understanding of the cellular and molecular mechanisms of respiratory viral infection in COPD.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine