Background: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) continues to pose a therapeutic challenge. This may be connected with its nosological heterogeneity, broad symptomatology spectrum, varying disease course, and therapy response. The last three decades has been characterized by increased understanding of the pathobiology of COPD, with associated advances in diagnostic and therapeutic modalities; however, the identification of pathognomonic biomarkers that determine disease severity, affect disease course, predict clinical outcome, and inform therapeutic strategy remains a work in progress. Objectives: Hypothesizing that a multi-variable model rather than single variable model may be more pathognomonic of COPD emphysema (COPD-E), the present study explored for disease-associated determinants of disease severity, and treatment success in Taiwanese patients with COPD-E. Methods: The present single-center, prospective, non-randomized study enrolled 125 patients with COPD and 43 healthy subjects between March 2015 and February 2021. Adopting a multimodal approach, including bioinformatics-aided analyses and geospatial modeling, we performed an integrated analysis of selected epigenetic, clinicopathological, geospatial, and air pollutant variables, coupled with correlative analyses of time-phased changes in pulmonary function indices and COPD-E severity. Results: Our COPD cohort consisted of 10 non-, 57 current-, and 58 ex-smokers (median age = 69 ± 7.76 years). Based on the percentages of low attenuation area below − 950 Hounsfield units (%LAA-950insp), 36 had mild or no emphysema (%LAA-950insp < 6), 22 were moderate emphysema cases (6 ≤ %LAA-950insp < 14), and 9 presented with severe emphysema (%LAA-950insp ≥ 14). We found that BMI, lnc-IL7R, PM2.5, PM10, and SO2 were differentially associated with disease severity, and are highly-specific predictors of COPD progression. Per geospatial levels, areas with high BMI and lnc-IL7R but low PM2.5, PM10, and SO2 were associated with fewer and ameliorated COPD cases, while high PM2.5, PM10, and SO2 but low BMI and lnc-IL7R characterized places with more COPD cases and indicated exacerbation. The prediction pentad effectively differentiates patients with mild/no COPD from moderate/severe COPD cases, (mean AUC = 0.714) and exhibited very high stratification precision (mean AUC = 0.939). Conclusion: Combined BMI, lnc-IL7R, PM2.5, PM10, and SO2 levels are optimal classifiers for accurate patient stratification and management triage for COPD in Taiwan. Low BMI, and lnc-IL7R, with concomitant high PM2.5, PM10, and SO2 levels is pathognomonic of exacerbated/aggravated COPD in Taiwan.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1833
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • BMI
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • COPD
  • Emphysema
  • Lnc-IL7R
  • PM
  • Severity
  • SO

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology


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