Analysis of sputum markers in the evaluation of lung inflammation and functional impairment in symptomatic smokers and COPD patients

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Abstract

The pivotal role of neutrophils and macrophages in smoking-related lung inflammation and COPD development is well-established.We aimed to assess whether sputum concentrations of Human Neutrophil Peptides (HNP), Neutrophil Elastase (NE), Interleukin-8 (IL-8), and Metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9), major products of neutrophils and macrophages, could be used to trace airway inflammation and progression towards pulmonary functional impairment characteristic of COPD.Forty-two symptomatic smokers and 42 COPD patients underwent pulmonary function tests; sputum samples were collected at enrolment, and 6 months after smoking cessation. HNP, NE, IL-8, MMP-9 levels were increased in individuals with COPD ( p < 0.0001). HNP and NE concentrations were higher in patients with severe airways obstruction, as compared to patients with mild-to-moderate COPD ( p = 0.002). A negative correlation was observed between FEV 1 and HNP, NE and IL-8 levels ( p < 0.01), between FVC 1 /FVC and HNP, NE and IL-8 levels ( p < 0.01), and between NE enrolment levels and FEV 1 decline after 2 years ( p = 0.04). ROC analysis, to discriminate symptomatic smokers and COPD patients, showed the following AUCs: for HNP 0.92; for NE 0.81; for IL-8 0.89; for MMP-9 0.81; for HNP, IL-8 and MMP-9 considered together 0.981.The data suggest that the measurement of sputum markers may have an important role in clinical practice for monitoring COPD.

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Paone, G., Conti, V., Vestri, A., Leone, A., Puglisi, G., Benassi, F., … Terzano, C. (2011). Analysis of sputum markers in the evaluation of lung inflammation and functional impairment in symptomatic smokers and COPD patients. Disease Markers, 31(2), 91–100. https://doi.org/10.3233/DMA-2011-0807

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