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Three-year follow-up of Interleukin 6 and C-reactive protein in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Renata Ferrari*, Suzana E Tanni, Laura MO Caram, Corina Corrêa, Camila R Corrêa and Irma Godoy

Author Affiliations

Faculdade de Medicina de Botucatu, Univ Estadual Paulista, Unesp, Disciplina de Pneumologia, Botucatu, São Paulo, Brazil

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Respiratory Research 2013, 14:24  doi:10.1186/1465-9921-14-24

Published: 20 February 2013



Past studies have shown that mean values of Interleukin-6 (IL-6) and C-reactive protein (CRP) do not change significantly in COPD patients over a one-year period. However, longer period follow-up studies are still lacking. Thus, the aim of this study is to evaluate plasma CRP and IL-6 concentration over three years in COPD patients and to test the association between these inflammatory mediators and disease outcome markers.


A cohort of 77 outpatients with stable COPD was evaluated at baseline, and 53 (mean FEV1, 56% predicted) were included in the prospective study. We evaluated Interleukin-6 (IL-6), C-reactive protein (CRP), six-minute walking distance (6MWD), and body mass index (BMI) at baseline and after three years. Plasma concentration of IL-6 was measured by high sensitivity ELISA, and CRP was obtained by high sensitivity particle-enhanced immunonephelometry.


IL-6 increased significantly after 3 years compared to baseline measurements [0.8 (0.5-1.3) vs 2.4 (1.3-4.4) pg/ml; p < 0.001] and was associated with worse 6MWD performance. In the Cox regression, increased IL-6 at baseline was associated with mortality [Hazard Ratio (95% CI) = 2.68 (0.13, 1.84); p = 0.02]. CRP mean values did not change [5 (1.6-7.9) vs 4.7 (1.7-10) pg/L; p = 0.84], although eleven patients (21%) presented with changes >3 mg/L in CRP after 3 years.


The systemic inflammatory process, evaluated by IL-6, seems to be persistent, progressive and associated with mortality and worse physical performance in COPD patients.

Trial registration


Inflammation; Biomarkers; Exercise; Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease