COPD treated with inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) therapy, along with other chronic respiratory diseases, are strong risk factors for non-tuberculous mycobacterial (NTM) pulmonary disease, according to French researchers.

To rule out definitive NTM pulmonary disease, the authors noted, doctors should conduct at least three sputum samples and a chest X-ray or chest CT in patients with COPD and other chronic respiratory diseases.

For the study, researchers analyzed Danish registry data for the period 1997-2008 on 332 patients with pulmonary NTM disease and 3320 controls. They found that 50.3% of patients with NTM pulmonary disease had chronic respiratory disease, with COPD being the most common disorder (42.2%), as compared to the controls (6.2% and 4.8%, respectively).

After accounting for comorbidities and alcohol-related disorders, the presence of any chronic respiratory disease was associated with a 16.5-fold increased risk for NTM pulmonary disease. COPD patients taking ICSs had a significantly greater risk for NTM pulmonary disease than those with COPD who had never taken these medications, at adjusted odds ratios (ORs) of 29.1 and 7.6, respectively.