Environmental Fungal Sensitization Associated With Worse Outcomes in COPD

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Sensitization to environmental fungi was associated with poorer outcomes in patients with COPD.

Sensitization to environmental fungi was associated with poorer outcomes in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to study results published in the European Respiratory Journal.

A comprehensive allergen screen that included house dust mites, pollens, cockroach and both indoor and outdoor sources of fungi was conducted in patients with COPD. Associations between allergen sensitization and COPD outcomes were then analyzed by comparing the results between patients with COPD and healthy control individuals.

Of the 497 participants included in the analysis, 446 had stable COPD and 51 were healthy control individuals. When compared with the control group, patients with COPD exhibited a high frequency of sensitization across a broad range of allergens. A total of 55.8% of participants with COPD were sensitized to fungi and 51.3% were sensitized to house dust mites. Furthermore, fungal sensitization was associated with frequent exacerbations. However, it is important to note that there was no association between sensitization status and COPD GOLD stage (lung function) or GOLD group (A, B, C, D) detected against any of the allergens.

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“[W]e illustrate that sensitization, particularly fungal, is prevalent in COPD, and associated with frequent exacerbations,” the study authors wrote. “Outdoor and indoor environments represent a key source of allergen exposure in COPD, which is amenable to precision intervention approaches to prevent adverse clinical outcomes in ‘sensitized’ COPD.”


Tiew PY, Ko FWS, Pang SL, et al. Environmental fungal sensitisation associates with poorer clinical outcomes in COPD [published April 27, 2020]. Eur Respir J. doi: 10.1183/13993003.00418-2020