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01.12.2015 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2015 Open Access

BMC Pulmonary Medicine 1/2015

Quantitative analysis of pathogens in the lower respiratory tract of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

BMC Pulmonary Medicine > Ausgabe 1/2015
Huaying Wang, Xiao Gu, Yuesong Weng, Tao Xu, Zhongming Fu, Weidong Peng, Wanjun Yu
Wichtige Hinweise

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors' contributions

Wang HY carried out the clinical study, participated in the RT-qPCR analysis and drafted the manuscript. Gu X carried out the ELISA measurement. YW participated in the conventional culture and RT-qPCR analysis. Xu T and Fu ZM participated in the clinical samples collection. Peng WD participated in the design of the study and performed the statistical analysis. WY conceived of the study, and participated in its design and coordination and helped to draft the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.



Bacterial infection of the lower respiratory tract is believed to play a major role in the pathogenesis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and acute exacerbations of COPD (AECOPD). This study investigates the potential relationship between AECOPD and the load of six common bacterial pathogens in the lower respiratory tract using real-time quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR) in COPD patients.


Protected specimen brush (PSB) and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) samples from the lower respiratory tract of 66 COPD patients and 33 healthy subjects were collected by bronchoscopy. The load of Staphylococcus aureus, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Pseudomonos aeruginosa, Haemophilus influenzeae, and Moraxella catarrhalis were detected by RT-qPCR.


High Klebsiella pneumoniae, Pseudomonos aeruginosa, Haemophilus influenzeae and Moraxella catarrhalis burden were detected by RT-qPCR in both PSB and BALF samples obtained from stable COPD and AECOPD patients compared with healthy subjects. The load of the above four pathogenic strains in PSB and BALF samples obtained from AECOPD patients were significantly higher compared with stable COPD patients. Finally, positive correlations between bacterial loads and inflammatory mediators such as neutrophil count and cytokine levels of IL-1β, IL-6 and IL-8, as well as negative correlations between bacterial loads and the forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) % predicted, forced vital capacity (FVC) % predicted, and FEV1/FVC ratio, were detected.


These findings suggest that increased bacterial loads mediated inflammatory response in the lower respiratory tract and were associated with AECOPD. In addition, these results provide guidance for antibiotic therapy of AECOPD patients.
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