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Background: Airway inflammation may drive the progression of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) associated with alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (AATD), but the relationship between airway microbiota and inflammation has not been investigated. Methods: We studied 21 non-treated AATD (AATD-noT) patients, 20 AATD-COPD patients under augmentation therapy (AATD-AT), 20 cigarette smoke-associated COPD patients, 20 control healthy smokers (CS) and 21 non-smokers (CON) with normal lung function. We quantified sputum inflammatory cells and inflammatory markers (IL-27, CCL3, CCL5, CXCL8, LTB4, MPO) by ELISA, total bacterial load (16S) and pathogenic bacteria by qRT-PCR. Results: AATD-AT patients were younger but had similar spirometric and DLCO values compared to cigarette smoke-associated COPD, despite a lower burden of smoking history. Compared to cigarette smoke-associated COPD, AATD-noT and AATD-AT patients had lower sputum neutrophil levels (p=0.0446, p=0.0135), total bacterial load (16S) (p=0.0081, p=0.0223), M. catarrhalis (p=0.0115, p=0.0127) and S. pneumoniae (p=0.0013, p=0.0001). Sputum IL-27 was significantly elevated in CS and cigarette smoke-associated COPD. AATD-AT, but not AATD-noT patients, had IL-27 sputum levels (pg/ml) significantly lower than COPD (p=0.0297) and these positively correlated with FEV1% predicted values (r=0.578, p=0.0307). Conclusions: Compared to cigarette smoke-associated COPD, AATD-AT (COPD) patients have a distinct airway inflammatory and microbiological profile. The decreased sputum bacterial load and IL-27 levels in AATD-AT patients suggests that augmentation therapy play a role in these changes. Keywords: alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, COPD, chronic airway inflammation, respiratory disability, sputum © 2019 Balbi et al.
Balbi, B., Sangiorgi, C., Gnemmi, I., Ferrarotti, I., Vallese, D., Paracchini, E., … Di Stefano, A. (2019). Bacterial load and inflammatory response in sputum of alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency patients with COPD. International Journal of COPD, 14, 1879–1893. https://doi.org/10.2147/COPD.S207203