Weight loss in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease has a negative effect on the clinical course of the patient. Causes of weight loss in this population are known to include the effects of an energy imbalance, increased cytokines, hypoxia, and glucocorticoid use. This article delineates mechanisms included in these processes and highlights specific deleterious aspects of each. In addition, the effects of the following therapies are discussed in light of recent research findings: nutrition support, anabolic steroids, recombinant human growth hormone, and polyunsaturated fatty acids. This review summarizes the current state of knowledge in this area.

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