Background: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), is a chronic inflammatory disorder. We evaluated whether white blood cell (WBC) count, is associated with the severity of COPD, independent of other inflammatory conditions, such as metabolic syndrome.
Methods: The WBC counts were compared between 1227 COPD patients and 8679 non-COPD adults older than 40. The relationships between the WBC count, lung function, and symptoms score in COPD patients, were determined, using general linear regression analyses.
Results: The WBC count was negatively associated with forced vital capacity (FVC, L), FVC (% predicted), forced expiry volume in one second (FEV1, L), and FEV1 (% predicted) in COPD patients. Additionally, the WBC count was independently associated with the quality of life measure, by EQ5D-index score. However, this relationship between WBC count, and disease severity, was not significant in current smokers, because of the confounding effect of smoking, on the WBC count.
Conclusion: The WBC count is associated with current smoking status and COPD severity, and a risk factor for poor lung function, and quality of life, especially in non-currently smoking COPD patients. The WBC count can be used, as an easily measurable COPD biomarker.