Antibiotic treatment in exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: recent trial results

Author(s): Kavina Manalan, Taslima Rashid & Aran Singanayagam

Exacerbations are the most frequent cause of hospitalization and death in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). In this review, the results of recent trials that have assessed the effect of antibiotics in COPD are discussed, including studies that have evaluated antibiotic therapy for exacerbations and those that have studied the role of long-term antibiotics in exacerbation prophylaxis. Antibiotic therapy may lead to a number of beneficial short- and long-term effects in COPD, but may also cause adverse side effects and promote the development of resistant pathogens. The precise disease phenotypes that should be treated with antibiotics are not well characterized, although biomarkers such as procalcitonin offer a promising approach to guide the judicious use of antibiotic therapy.