Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

Chronic obstructive
pulmonary disease (COPD)

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a frequent disorder characterized by irreversible lung obstruction. It is the third leading cause of death in the world. It has been mainly linked to tobacco smokers.


The mean age of COPD onset is around 40 years (NIH). COPD  affects 328 million people worldwide (Quaderi and Hurst., 2018). The overall incidence rate of COPD is 8.9/1000 persons-year (Terzikhan et al., 2016).


COPD clinical symptoms worsen over time with a life expectation that highly depends on age and general health. Symptoms for COPD include chronic cough, dyspnea, frequent chest infections, fatigue, phlegm or sputum, persistent wheezing (NHS).


Currently treatments of COPD rely mostly on bronchodilator inhalers which help slow the progression of the symptoms but do not cure the disease.

In COPD the alveoli, which are responsible for the gas exchange in the respiratory system, and the airways are damaged due to, often, tobacco smoke. During the course of the disease the airways are infiltrated by pro-inflammatory cells due to the upregulation of adhesion molecules (Pilette et al., 2007). Furthermore, the airways undergo an architectural remodeling which include the narrowing of the airway lumen in conjunction with the thickening of the airway walls (James and Wenzel, 2007). This inevitably leads to the decline of lung function (Figure 3).

Again, Galectin-3 was established to be involved in the lung physiology. In COPD, Galectin-3 is upregulated and seems to be playing an instrumental role in lung inflammation and cell proliferation (Mammen et al., 2021; Sundqvist et al., 2021).