Community-acquired pneumonia subgroups and differential response to corticosteroids: a secondary analysis of controlled studies

Esther Wittermans, Philip A. van der Zee, Hongchao Qi, Ewoudt M. W. van de Garde, Claudine A. Blum, Mirjam Christ-Crain, Diederik Gommers, Jan C. Grutters, G. Paul Voorn, Willem Jan W. Bos, Henrik Endeman

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Background: Latent class analysis (LCA) has identified subgroups with meaningful treatment implications in acute respiratory distress syndrome. We performed a secondary analysis of three studies to assess whether LCA can identify clinically distinct subgroups in community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) and whether the treatment effect of adjunctive corticosteroids differs between subgroups.

Methods: LCA was performed on baseline clinical and biomarker data from the Ovidius trial (n=304) and the Steroids in Pneumonia (STEP) trial (n=727), both randomised controlled trials investigating adjunctive corticosteroid treatment in CAP, and the observational TripleP cohort (n=201). Analyses were conducted independently in two cohorts (Ovidius-TripleP combined and the STEP trial). In both cohorts, differences in clinical outcomes and response to adjunctive corticosteroid treatment were examined between subgroups identified through LCA.

Results: A two-class model fitted both cohorts best. Class 2 patients had more signs of systemic inflammation compared to class 1. In both cohorts, length of stay was longer and in-hospital mortality rate was higher in class 2. In the Ovidius trial, corticosteroids reduced the median length of stay in class 2 (6.5 versus 9.5 days) but not in class 1 (p-value for interaction=0.02). In the STEP trial, there was no significant interaction for length of stay. We found no significant interaction between class assignment and adjunctive corticosteroid treatment for secondary outcomes.

Conclusions: In two independent cohorts, LCA identified two classes of CAP patients with different clinical characteristics and outcomes. Given the different response to adjunctive corticosteroids in the Ovidius trial, LCA might provide a useful basis to improve patient selection for future trials.

Original languageEnglish
Article number00489-2021
Pages (from-to)1-11
JournalERJ Open Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022


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