A study carried out by researchers from the Hospital del Mar in Barcelona and its Imim Research Institute, as well as the Cyber ​​Respiratory Diseases Cyber ​​(Ciberes), of the Carlos III Health Institute in Madrid, has revealed that chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in very advanced phases causes muscle destruction in patients, although these have a good muscle mass.

COPD, which affects 10% of the Spanish population, consists of a progressive chronic limitation of airflow, normally irreversible, and which in 90% of cases is due to tobacco consumption. Its main symptom is a decrease in respiratory capacity, which significantly deteriorates the quality of life of the patient.

It had already been proven that patients with COPD in severe condition and with a significant loss of muscle mass had high levels of programmed cell death in tissues, so the new study, which has been published in Journal of Applied Physiology, points out that it is advisable that these patients exercise the musculature.

Patients with COPD in severe condition and with a significant loss of muscle mass, had high levels of programmed cell death in tissues

To carry out the study, the researchers divided patients into groups according to COPD, moderate and severe, and established a group of control subjects. Using biopsies, they took samples of respiratory muscles and the lower extremities of each patient, and analyzed them from four markers. In this way, they observed whether there was cellular inflammation in three muscles: the external intercostal, diaphragm and quadriceps.

Esther Barreiro, pulmonologist at the Hospital del Mar and scientist at Ciberes, who has led the work, explained, however, that in the case of patients in intermediate stages of the disease, and who did not have muscle mass loss, they have not found no indicator of muscle destruction or that it presented advanced signs of programmed cell death.


Understanding COPD (November 2019).