The pharmacological management of asthma-chronic obstructive pulmonary disease overlap syndrome (ACOS)

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15 Scopus citations


Introduction: Asthma-chronic obstructive pulmonary disease overlap syndrome (ACOS) is a disease phenotype that shares T helper lymphocyte cell Th1/neutrophilic/non-Type-2 Inflammation pathways thought to be key in COPD and Th2/eosinophilic/Type-2 inflammatory pathways of asthma. The pharmacology of treating ACOS is challenging in severe circumstances. Areas covered: This review evaluates the stepwise treatment of ACOS using pharmacological treatments used in both COPD and asthma. The most common medications involve the same inhalers used to treat COPD and asthma patients. Advanced stepwise therapies for ACOS patients are based on patient characteristics and biomarkers. Very few clinical trials exist that focus specifically on ACOS patients. Expert opinion: After inhalers, advanced therapies including phosphodiesterase inhibitors, macrolides, N-acetylcysteine and statin therapy for those ACOS patients with a COPD appearance and exacerbations are available. In atopic ACOS patients with exacerbations, advanced asthma therapies (leukotriene receptor antagonists and synthesis blocking agents.) are used. ACOS patients with elevated blood eosinophil/IgE levels are considered for immunotherapy or therapeutic monoclonal antibodies blocking specific Th2/Type-2 interleukins or IgE. Symptom control, stabilization/improvement in pulmonary function and reduced exacerbations are the metrics of success. More pharmacological trials of ACOS patients are needed to better understand which patients benefit from specific treatments. Abbreviations: 5-LOi: 5-lipoxygenase inhibitor; ACOS: asthma–COPD overlap syndrome; B2AR: Beta2 adrenergic receptors; cAMP: cyclic adenosine monophosphate; cGMP: cyclic guanosine monophosphate; CI: confidence interval; COPD: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; CRS : chronic rhinosinusitis; cys-LT: cysteinyl leukotrienes; DPI: dry powder inhaler; EMA: European Medicines Agency; FDA: US Food and Drug Administration; FDC: fixed-dose combination; FeNO: exhaled nitric oxide; FEV1: forced expiratory volume in one second; FVC: forced vital capacity; GM-CSF: granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor; ICS : inhaled corticosteroids; IL: interleukin; ILC2: Type 2 innate lymphoid cells; IP3: Inositol triphosphate; IRR: incidence rate ratio; KOLD: Korean Obstructive Lung Disease; LABA: long-acting B2 adrenergic receptor agonist; LAMA: long-acting muscarinic receptor antagonist; LRA: leukotriene receptor antagonist; LT: leukotrienes; MDI: metered-dose inhalers; MN: M-subtype muscarinic receptors; MRA: muscarinic receptor antagonist; NAC: N-acetylcysteine; NEB: nebulization; OR: odds ratio; PDE: phosphodiesterase; PEFR: peak expiratory flow rate; PGD2: prostaglandin D2; PRN: as needed; RR: risk ratio; SABA: short-acting B2 adrenergic receptor agonist; SAMA: short-acting muscarinic receptor antagonist; SDMI: spring-driven mist inhaler; Th1: T helper cell 1 lymphocyte; Th2: T helper cell 2 lymphocytes; TNF-α: tumor necrosis factor alpha; US : United States.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)213-231
Number of pages19
JournalExpert Opinion on Pharmacotherapy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 22 2020


  • ACOS
  • asthma
  • Asthma Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Overlap Syndrome
  • Bronchodilators
  • COPD
  • immunotherapy
  • Treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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