Blood eosinophils measurement, as proxy for tissue eosinophils, has become an important biomarker for exacerbation risk and response to inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Its use to determine the pharmacological approach is recommended in the latest COPD guidelines. The potential role of blood eosinophils is mainly based on data derived from post-hoc and retrospective analyses that showed an association between increased blood eosinophils and risk of exacerbations, as well as mitigation of this risk with ICS. Yet other publications, including studies in real life COPD, do not confirm these assumptions. Moreover, anti-eosinophil therapy targeting interleukin (IL)-5 failed to reduce exacerbations in COPD patients with high blood eosinophils, which casts significant doubts on the role of eosinophils in COPD. Furthermore, a reduction of eosinophils might be harmful since COPD patients with relatively high eosinophils have better pulmonary function, better life quality, less infections and longer survival. These effects are probably linked to the role of eosinophils in the immune response against pathogens. In conclusion, in COPD, high blood eosinophils are widely used as a biomarker for exacerbation risk and response to ICS. However, much is yet to be learned about the reasons for the high eosinophil counts, their variations and their controversial effects on the fate of COPD patients.
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