Is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease a disease of aging?

Research paper by Manuel G MG Cosio, Riccardo R Cazzuffi, Marina M Saetta

Indexed on: 14 May '14Published on: 14 May '14Published in: Respiration; international review of thoracic diseases


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a disease that usually presents clinically at an advanced age, after years of smoking cigarettes. It is usually believed that aging and its biological consequences are important mechanisms in the disease pathogenesis. This concept has maintained the focus of studies on COPD in old-age individuals. Here we analyze the possible role of aging from a different point of view and introduce different concepts that might be considered useful additions to the understanding of the disease. Essentially, we propose and show evidence that COPD is a disease of the young susceptible smoker that progresses over time and manifests in older age because we live longer and not so much because of the effect of aging itself; we examine the concept of cell senescence, the basis of tissue aging, and how stressors like the ones produced by smoking can accelerate cell senescence with all of its untoward consequences in COPD. We thus finally suggest that COPD might accelerate aging rather than be a consequence of it. In conclusion, we suggest that COPD could be considered a disease of the predisposed young individual that manifests clinically in old age because we live longer, with all of its consequences.