Transforming growth factor-beta1 (TGF-β1) is a multipotential cytokine with angiogenic activity. There are only limited data about its role in airway remodeling in COPD. We have previously shown that the reticular basement membrane (Rbm) is hypervascular in the airways of current smokers either with or without chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This study evaluated TGF-β1 immunostaining in the Rbm and its relationship to vascularity in smokers with or without COPD.
Bronchial biopsies from 15 smokers with normal lung function, 19 current and 14 ex-smokers with COPD were immunostained for TGF-β1 antibody and compared to 17 healthy controls. The percentage area of tissue and also number and area of vessels staining positively for TGF-β1 were measured and compared between groups. Some bronchial biopsies from current smoking COPD subjects were also stained for phosphorylated (active) Smad2/3. Epithelial TGF- β1 staining was not different between COPD current smokers and normal controls. TGF-β1 stained vessels in the Rbm were increased in smokers with normal lung function, current smoking COPD and ex-smokers with COPD compared to controls [median (range) for number of vessels/mm Rbm 2.5 (0.0–12.7), 3.4 (0.0–8.1) and 1.0 (0.0–6.3) vs. 0.0 (0.0–7.0), p<0.05]. Percentage of vessels stained was also increased in these clinical groups. Preliminary data suggest that in current smoking COPD subjects endothelial cells and cells in the Rbm stain positively for phosphorylated Smad2/3 suggesting TGF-β1 is functionally active in this situation.
Vessel-associated TGF-β1 activity is increased in the bronchial Rbm in smokers and especially those with COPD.
This study compared reticular basement membrane (Rbm) and vascular remodelling within the bronchial mucosa of subjects with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) with those from patients with asthma, to test the ‘Dutch hypothesis’ of whether these are essentially the same or different pathological conditions.
Methods and results
Bronchoscopic biopsies were stained with anti-collagen IV antibody; 18 current smoking COPD, 10 symptomatic asthmatics and 13 healthy non-smoking controls were studied. The Rbm in COPD was fragmented, non-homogeneous, variable in thickness and hypervascular, whereas in asthma the Rbm was compact and homogeneous with no evidence of increased vascularity compared to controls. Length of Rbm splitting presented as percentage of Rbm length was used to measure fragmentation; it was greater in COPD than in controls and asthmatics [median (range) 20.7% (0.4–68.5) versus 5.3% (0.0–21.7) versus 1.5% (0.0–15.1), P < 0.001]. The number of Rbm vessels/mm Rbm [median (range) 10.1 (1.6–23.0) versus 4.5 (0.0–26.4) versus 4.4 (0.4–8.1), P < 0.01] and area of Rbm vessels, μm2/mm Rbm [median (range) 953 (115–2456) versus 462 (0–3263) versus 426 (32–2216), P < 0.05] was also increased in COPD compared to normal subjects and asthmatics.
The characteristics of Rbm remodelling are quite different in asthma and COPD.
airway remodelling; asthma; bronchial biopsies; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; reticular basement membrane
Reticular basement membrane (RBM) thickening has been variably associated with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Even if RBM thickness is similar in both diseases, its composition might still differ.
To assess whether RBM thickness and composition differ between asthma and COPD.
We investigated 24 allergic asthmatics (forced expiratory volume in one second [FEV1] 92% predicted), and 17 nonallergic COPD patients (FEV1 60% predicted), and for each group a control group of similar age and smoking habits (12 and 10 persons, respectively). Snap-frozen sections of bronchial biopsies were stained with hematoxylin/eosin and for collagen I, III, IV, V, laminin and tenascin. RBM thickening was assessed by digital image analysis. Relative staining intensity of each matrix component was determined.
Mean (SD) RBM thickness was not significantly different between asthma and COPD 5.5 (1.3) vs 6.0 (1.8) μm, but significantly larger than in their healthy counterparts, ie, 4.7 (0.9) and 4.8 (1.2) μm, respectively. Collagen I and laminin stained significantly stronger in asthma than in COPD. Tenascin stained stronger in asthma than in healthy controls of similar age, and stronger in COPD controls than in asthma controls (p < 0.05).
RBM thickening occurs both in asthma and COPD. We provide supportive evidence that its composition differs in asthma and COPD.
reticular basement membrane thickness; reticular basement membrane composition; asthma; biopsy; COPD; remodeling
The reticular basement membrane (Rbm) in smokers and especially smokers with COPD is fragmented with "clefts" containing cells staining for the collagenase matrix-metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) and fibroblast protein, S100A4. These cells are also present in the basal epithelium. Such changes are likely hallmarks of epithelial mesenchymal transition (EMT). We aimed to confirm the epithelial origin of these Rbm cells, and to exclude potential confounding by infiltrating inflammatory cells.
Endobronchial biopsy sections from 17 COPD current smokers, with documented Rbm splitting and cellularity were stained for neutrophil elastase (neutrophil marker), CD68 (macrophage/mature fibroblasts), CD4+/CD8+ T lymphocytes, CD19 (B-cells), CD11c (dendritic cells/inflammatory cells), and S100 (Langerhans cells). The number of cells in the Rbm and epithelium staining for these "inflammatory" cell markers were then compared to numbers staining for S100A4, "a documented EMT epitope". Slides were double stained for S100A4 and cytokeratin(s).
In the basal epithelium significantly more cells stained for S100A4 compared to infiltrating macrophages, fibroblasts or immune cells: median, 26 (21.3 - 37.3) versus 0 (0 - 9.6) per mm, p < 0.003. Markedly more S100A4 staining cells were also observed in the Rbm compared to infiltrating macrophages, neutrophils, fibroblasts or immune cells or any sub-type: 58 (37.3 - 92.6) versus 0 (0 - 4.8) cells/mm Rbm, p < 0.003. Cells in the basal epithelium 26 (21.3 - 37.3) per mm) and Rbm (5.9 (2.3 - 13.8) per mm) frequently double stained for both cytokeratin and S100A4.
These data provide additional support for active EMT in COPD airways.
cytokeratin; clefts; epithelial mesenchymal transition (EMT); inflammatory cells and S100A4
Background and Objective. Using Collagen IV staining, we have previously reported that the reticular basement membrane (Rbm) is hypervascular and the lamina propria (LP) is hypovascular in COPD airways. This study compared Collagen IV staining with vessels marked with anti-Factor VIII and examined vessel permeability in bronchial biopsies from COPD and normal subjects using albumin staining. Results. Anti-Collagen IV antibody detected more vessels in the Rbm (P = 0.002) and larger vessels in both Rbm (P < 0.001) and LP (P = 0.003) compared to Factor VIII. COPD airways had more vessels (with greater permeability) in the Rbm (P = 0.01) and fewer vessels (with normal permeability) in the LP compared to controls with both Collagen IV and Factor VIII antibodies (P = 0.04 and P = 0.01). Conclusion. Rbm vessels were increased in number and were hyperpermeable in COPD airways. Anti-Collagen IV and anti-Factor VIII antibodies did not uniformly detect the same vessel populations; the first is likely to reflect larger and older vessels with the latter reflecting smaller, younger vessels.
Background: To investigate whether nasal and bronchial inflammation coexists in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), nasal and bronchial biopsy specimens from seven control subjects, seven smokers without COPD, and 14 smokers with COPD were studied.
Methods: Nasal and bronchial biopsy specimens were taken from the same patients during bronchoscopy and squamous cell metaplasia and the thickness of the epithelium and basement membrane were measured. The numbers of eosinophils (EG2), neutrophils (elastase), macrophages (CD68), and CD8 T lymphocytes (CD8/144B) were assessed by immunohistochemistry.
Results: Smokers with and without COPD had squamous metaplasia in the nasal and bronchial epithelium. In all groups the thickness of the nasal epithelium was greater than that of the bronchial epithelium. The thickness of the basement membrane was similar in nasal and bronchial biopsy specimens from smokers with and without COPD, but was greater in the bronchi than in the nasal epithelium of controls. Eosinophil number was higher in the nasal and bronchial mucosa of smokers without COPD than in smokers with COPD or controls. Neutrophil number was higher in the nasal and bronchial mucosa of smokers with COPD than in smokers without COPD or controls. CD8 T lymphocyte numbers were similar in smokers with and without COPD and higher than in controls. There were fewer macrophages in nasal and bronchial biopsy specimens from smokers without COPD than in those with COPD.
Conclusion: Nasal and bronchial inflammation coexists in smokers and is characterised by infiltration of CD8 T lymphocytes. In smokers without COPD this feature is associated with an increased number of eosinophils, while in those with COPD it is linked to an increased number of neutrophils in both nasal and bronchial biopsy specimens.
Altered pulmonary defenses in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may promote distal airways bacterial colonization. The expression/activation of Toll Like receptors (TLR) and beta 2 defensin (HBD2) release by epithelial cells crucially affect pulmonary defence mechanisms.
The epithelial expression of TLR4 and of HBD2 was assessed in surgical specimens from current smokers COPD (s-COPD; n = 17), ex-smokers COPD (ex-s-COPD; n = 8), smokers without COPD (S; n = 12), and from non-smoker non-COPD subjects (C; n = 13).
In distal airways, s-COPD highly expressed TLR4 and HBD2. In central airways, S and s-COPD showed increased TLR4 expression. Lower HBD2 expression was observed in central airways of s-COPD when compared to S and to ex-s-COPD. s-COPD had a reduced HBD2 gene expression as demonstrated by real-time PCR on micro-dissected bronchial epithelial cells. Furthermore, HBD2 expression positively correlated with FEV1/FVC ratio and inversely correlated with the cigarette smoke exposure. In a bronchial epithelial cell line (16 HBE) IL-1β significantly induced the HBD2 mRNA expression and cigarette smoke extracts significantly counteracted this IL-1 mediated effect reducing both the activation of NFkB pathway and the interaction between NFkB and HBD2 promoter.
This study provides new insights on the possible mechanisms involved in the alteration of innate immunity mechanisms in COPD.
Rationale: Inflammation is now recognized as an integral part of the pathogenesis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). In contrast to the sterile airways of normal lungs, bacterial pathogens are often isolated from the airways in stable COPD. This “colonization” of the tracheobronchial tree, currently believed to be innocuous, could serve as an inflammatory stimulus, independent of current tobacco smoke exposure.
Objective: To test the hypothesis that bacterial colonization is associated with airway inflammation in stable COPD.
Methods: Bronchoscopy with bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) was performed in three groups of subjects: 26 ex-smokers with stable COPD (COPD), 20 ex-smokers without COPD (ex-smokers), and 15 healthy nonsmokers (nonsmokers). Quantitative bacterial cultures, cell counts, chemokine, cytokine, proteinase/antiproteinase, and endotoxin levels in the BAL fluid were compared.
Results: Potentially pathogenic bacteria were recovered at ⩾ 100 cfu/ml in 34.6% of COPD, 0% of ex-smokers, and in 6.7% of nonsmokers (p = 0.003). All values are expressed as median (interquartile range). Subjects with colonized COPD had significantly greater relative (12.0 [28.4] vs. 3.0 [7.8]%, p = 0.03) and absolute (4.98 [5.26] × 104/ml vs. 3.04 [2.82] × 104/ml, p = 0.02) neutrophil counts, interleukin 8 (33.8 [189.8] vs. 16.9 [20.1] pg/ml, p = 0.005), active matrix metalloproteinase-9 (2.16 [4.30] vs. 0.84 [0.99] U/ml, p = 0.03), and endotoxin (36.0 [72.6] vs. 3.55 [7.17] mEU/ml, p = 0.004) levels in the BAL than the subjects with noncolonized COPD. These inflammatory constituents of BAL were also significantly elevated in subjects with colonized COPD when compared with ex-smokers and nonsmokers.
Conclusions: Bacterial colonization is associated with neutrophilic airway lumen inflammation in ex-smokers with COPD and could contribute to progression of airway disease in COPD.
bacterial colonization; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; neutrophilic inflammation
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is associated with airway inflammation. Although smoking cessation improves symptoms and the decline in lung function in COPD, it is unknown whether bronchial inflammation in patients with established COPD varies with the duration of smoking cessation.
114 patients (99 men) with COPD of mean (SD) age 62 (8) years, a median (IQR) smoking history of 42 (31–55) pack years, no inhaled or oral corticosteroids, all current or ex‐smokers (n = 42, quit >1 month, median cessation duration 3.5 years), post‐bronchodilator FEV1 63 (9)% predicted, and FEV1/IVC 48 (9)% were studied cross sectionally. The numbers of subepithelial T lymphocytes (CD3, CD4, CD8), neutrophils, macrophages, eosinophils, mast cells, and plasma cells were measured in bronchial biopsy specimens (median (IQR)/0.1 mm2) using fully automated image analysis.
Ex‐smokers with COPD had higher CD3+, CD4+, and plasma cell numbers than current smokers with COPD (149 (88–225) v 108 (61–164), p = 0.036; 58 (32–90) v 40 (25–66), p = 0.023; and 9.0 (5.5–20) v 7.5 (3.1–14), p = 0.044, respectively), but no difference in other inflammatory cells. Short term ex‐smokers (<3.5 years) had higher CD4+ and CD8+ cell numbers than current smokers (p = 0.017, p = 0.023; respectively). Conversely, long term ex‐smokers (quit ⩾3.5 years) had lower CD8+ cell numbers than short term ex‐smokers (p = 0.009), lower CD8/CD3 ratios than both current smokers and short‐term ex‐smokers (p = 0.012, p = 0.003; respectively), and higher plasma cell numbers than current smokers (p = 0.003).
With longer duration of smoking cessation, CD8 cell numbers decrease and plasma cell numbers increase. This indicates that bronchial T lymphocyte and plasma cell counts, but not other inflammatory cells, are related to duration of smoking cessation in patients with COPD.
plasma cells; T lymphocytes; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; smoking cessation
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is characterized by inflammation and remodeling of the lungs. This results in alterations in extracellular matrix (ECM) and structural changes leading to airflow obstruction. We studied the expression of tenascin-C (Tn-C) and alpha smooth muscle actin (α-SMA), which act as a marker of myofibroblasts, in large airways from COPD patients. Our aim was to elucidate whether this expression correlated with smoking or with disease development.
Bronchoscopy was performed on 20 COPD patients (mean age 56 years; range 39-61; FEV1/FVC < 70% and FEV1 median 53% (range 33-69) of predicted). Age and smoking matched smokers (S) without COPD (n = 13) and age matched non-smokers (NS) (n = 14) served as controls. Bronchial mucosal biopsies were analyzed by immunohistochemistry. The distribution of Tn-C expression was assessed and graded in three levels, and the number of spindle shaped cells staining positive for α-SMA were counted.
Biopsies from COPD patients had more (P < 0.001) Tn-C expression than the two control groups. A significantly (P < 0.05) increased number of spindle shaped cells expressing α-SMA was observed in COPD patients compared with the controls. Smokers and nonsmokers did not differ in this respect. The expression of Tn-C correlated positively (P < 0.001) to the number of α-SMA positive cells.
We demonstrate increased expression of Tn-C and α-SMA positive cells in the large airways in COPD. This was not associated to smoking per se, but to the presence of airway obstruction. Our findings add new information regarding remodeling characteristics and highlight the large airways as a potential site for airways obstruction in COPD.
The expression of HDAC2 is reported as reduced in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). We assessed HDAC2 expression within the airways of smokers and subjects with COPD and effects of inhaled corticosteroids (ICS), using immuno-histology to contrast with previous molecular methodology.
Endobronchial biopsies (ebb) from current smokers with COPD (COPD-CS; n = 15), ex-smokers with COPD (COPD-ES; n = 17), smokers with normal lung function (NS; n = 16) and normal controls (NC; n = 9) were immunostained for HDAC2. A double-blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled 6 months intervention study assessed effects of ICS on HDAC2 in 34 COPD subjects.
There was no difference in epithelial HDAC2 staining in all groups. There was a significant reduction in total cell numbers in the lamina propria (LP) in COPD-CS and NS (p<0.05). LP cellularity correlated inversely with smoking history in COPD-CS (R = −0.8, p<0.003). HDAC2 expression increased markedly in NS (p<0.001); in contrast COPD-CS was associated with suppressed signal (p<0.03), while normal in COPD-ES. ICS did not affect HDAC2 cell staining.
Our findings suggest that airway HDAC2 expression is increased in the LP by smoking itself, but is reduced in COPD. Ex-smokers have normalised HDAC2 cell expression, but ICS had no effect. The paper emphasise the pit-falls of relying on molecular data alone to define airway changes.
Clinical Trial Registration Information:
Name of registry
The Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ANZCTR)
Background: The epithelial reticular basement membrane (Rbm) of the airway wall thickens in patients with asthma. However, whether the thickening parallels whole airway wall thickening, which limits airflow, is unknown. The aim of this study was to examine the correlation between the bronchial Rbm thickening and whole airway wall thickening in asthma. In addition, the association of Rbm and whole wall thickening with airflow obstruction was examined.
Methods: Forty nine patients with asthma and 18 healthy control subjects took part in the study. The Rbm thickness was measured in bronchial biopsy specimens and whole airway wall thickness was assessed with high resolution computed tomographic (HRCT) scanning after pretreatment with oral steroids for 2 weeks and inhaled ß2 agonist to minimise reversible changes of the airway walls. The percentage airway wall area (WA%; defined as (wall area/total airway area) x 100) and percentage airway wall thickness (WT%; defined as [(ideal outer diameter – ideal luminal diameter)/ideal outer diameter] x 100) were determined from HRCT scans to assess whole airway wall thickness. Spirometric tests were also performed.
Results: WA% and WT% were higher in patients with asthma than in healthy subjects. Both WA% and WT% were strongly correlated with Rbm thickness. Moreover, these three indices of airway wall thickness were inversely correlated with the percentage of predicted forced expiratory volume in 1 second in patients with asthma.
Conclusions: These findings indicate that Rbm thickening parallels whole airway wall thickening which can cause irreversible airflow obstruction in patients with asthma.
oxide (NO) plays an important role as an inflammatory mediator in the
airways. Since chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is
characterised by airway inflammation, a study was undertaken to
determine NO levels in the exhaled air of patients with COPD.
METHODS—Two groups of
patients with clinically stable COPD were studied, 10 current smokers
and 10 ex-smokers. Two control groups of healthy subjects consisting of
10 current smokers and 20 non-smokers were also studied. Exhaled NO
levels were measured by the collection bag technique and NO
levels of exhaled NO in ex-smokers and current smokers with COPD (25.7 (3.0) ppb and 10.2 (1.4) ppb, respectively) were significantly higher
than in non-smoker and current smoker control subjects (9.4 (0.8) ppb
and 4.6 (0.4) ppb, respectively). In current smokers with COPD exhaled
levels of NO were significantly lower than in ex-smokers. In this
latter group of patients there was a significant negative correlation
between smoking history (pack years) and levels of exhaled NO
(r = -0.8, p = 0.002). A positive
correlation was seen between forced expiratory volume in one second
(FEV1) and levels of exhaled NO
(r = 0.65, p = 0.001) in patients with COPD.
show that exhaled NO is increased in patients with stable COPD, both
current and ex-smokers, compared with healthy control subjects.
The first changes associated with smoking are in the small airway epithelium (SAE). Given that smoking alters SAE gene expression, but only a fraction of smokers develop chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), we hypothesized that assessment of SAE genome-wide gene expression would permit biologic phenotyping of the smoking response, and that a subset of healthy smokers would have a “COPD-like” SAE transcriptome.
SAE (10th–12th generation) was obtained via bronchoscopy of healthy nonsmokers, healthy smokers and COPD smokers and microarray analysis was used to identify differentially expressed genes. Individual responsiveness to smoking was quantified with an index representing the % of smoking-responsive genes abnormally expressed (ISAE), with healthy smokers grouped into “high” and “low” responders based on the proportion of smoking-responsive genes up- or down-regulated in each smoker. Smokers demonstrated significant variability in SAE transcriptome with ISAE ranging from 2.9 to 51.5%. While the SAE transcriptome of “low” responder healthy smokers differed from both “high” responders and smokers with COPD, the transcriptome of the “high” responder healthy smokers was indistinguishable from COPD smokers.
The SAE transcriptome can be used to classify clinically healthy smokers into subgroups with lesser and greater responses to cigarette smoking, even though these subgroups are indistinguishable by clinical criteria. This identifies a group of smokers with a “COPD-like” SAE transcriptome.
Cigarette smoking and advanced age are well known as risk factors for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and nutritional abnormalities are important in patients with COPD. However, little is known about the nutritional status in non-COPD aging men with smoking history. We therefore investigated whether reduced lung function is associated with lower blood markers of nutritional status in those men.
Subjects and methods:
This association was examined in a cross-sectional study of 65 Japanese male current or former smokers aged 50 to 80 years: 48 without COPD (non-COPD group), divided into tertiles according to forced expiratory volume in one second as percent of forced vital capacity (FEV1/FVC), and 17 with COPD (COPD group).
After adjustment for potential confounders, lower FEV1/FVC was significantly associated with lower red blood cell count (RBCc), hemoglobin, and total protein (TP); not with total energy intake. The difference in adjusted RBCc and TP among the non-COPD group tertiles was greater than that between the bottom tertile in the non-COPD group and the COPD group.
In non-COPD aging men with smoking history, trends toward reduced nutritional status and anemia may independently emerge in blood components along with decreased lung function even before COPD onset.
anemia; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; lung function; nutritional assessment; nutritional status; smoking
The bronchial epithelium and underlying reticular basement membrane (RBM) have a close spatial and functional inter-relationship and are considered an epithelial–mesenchymal trophic unit (EMTU). An understanding of RBM development is critical to understanding the extent and time of appearance of its abnormal thickening that is characteristic of asthma.
RBM thickness and epithelial height were determined in histological sections of cartilaginous bronchi obtained postmortem from 47 preterm babies and infants (median age 40 weeks gestation (22 weeks gestation–8 months)), 40 children (2 years (1 month–17 years)) and 23 adults (44 (17–90) years) who had died from non-respiratory causes, and had no history of asthma.
The RBM was visible by light microscopy at 30 weeks gestation. RBM thickness increased in successive age groups in childhood; in infants (r=0.63, p<0.001) and in children between 1 month and 17 years (r=0.82, p<0.001). After 18 years, RBM thickness decreased with increasing age (r=−0.42, p<0.05). Epithelial height showed a similar relationship with age, a positive relationship from preterm to 17 years (r = 0.50, p<0.001) and a negative relationship in adulthood (r=−0.84, p<0.0001). There was a direct relationship between epithelial height and RBM thickness (r=0.6, p<0.001).
The RBM in these subjects was microscopically identifiable by 30 weeks gestation. It thickened during childhood and adolescence. In adults, there was either no relationship with age, or a slow reduction in thickness in older age. Developmental changes of RBM thickness were accompanied by similar changes in epithelial height, supporting the close relationship between RBM and epithelium within the EMTU.
Background. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is gaining an importance over the world, and its effect on quality of life is better grasped. Our objective was to use the Clinical COPD Questionnaire (CCQ) to describe the respiratory quality of life in the Lebanese population, stressing on differences between smokers and nonsmokers. Methods. Using data from a cross-sectional national study, we checked the construct validity and reliability of the CCQ. Factors and items correlation with postbronchodilator FEV1/FVC were reported, in addition to factors and scale association with COPD and its severity. We then conducted a multiple regression to find predictors of quality of life. Results. The CCQ demonstrated excellent psychometric properties, with adequacy to the sample and high consistency. Smokers had a decreased respiratory quality of life versus nonsmokers, independently of their respiratory disease status and severity. This finding was confirmed in COPD individuals, where several environmental factors, lower education, and cumulative smoking of cigarette and of waterpipe were found to be independent predictors of a lower quality of life, after adjusting for COPD severity. Conclusions. Smoking decreases the respiratory quality of life of Lebanese adults; this issue has to be further emphasized during smoking cessation and patients' education.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is associated with bronchial epithelial changes, including squamous cell metaplasia and goblet cell hyperplasia. These features are partially attributed to activation of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). Whereas smoking cessation reduces respiratory symptoms and lung function decline in COPD, inflammation persists. We determined epithelial proliferation and composition in bronchial biopsies from current and ex-smokers with COPD, and its relation to duration of smoking cessation.
114 COPD patients were studied cross-sectionally: 99 males/15 females, age 62 ± 8 years, median 42 pack-years, no corticosteroids, current (n = 72) or ex-smokers (n = 42, median cessation duration 3.5 years), postbronchodilator FEV1 63 ± 9% predicted. Squamous cell metaplasia (%), goblet cell (PAS/Alcian Blue+) area (%), proliferating (Ki-67+) cell numbers (/mm basement membrane), and EGFR expression (%) were measured in intact epithelium of bronchial biopsies.
Ex-smokers with COPD had significantly less epithelial squamous cell metaplasia, proliferating cell numbers, and a trend towards reduced goblet cell area than current smokers with COPD (p = 0.025, p = 0.001, p = 0.081, respectively), but no significant difference in EGFR expression. Epithelial features were not different between short-term quitters (<3.5 years) and current smokers. Long-term quitters (≥3.5 years) had less goblet cell area than both current smokers and short-term quitters (medians: 7.9% vs. 14.4%, p = 0.005; 7.9% vs. 13.5%, p = 0.008; respectively), and less proliferating cell numbers than current smokers (2.8% vs. 18.6%, p < 0.001).
Ex-smokers with COPD had less bronchial epithelial remodelling than current smokers, which was only observed after long-term smoking cessation (>3.5 years).
Smoking and inflammation contribute to the pathogenesis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which involves changes in extracellular matrix. This is thought to contribute to airway remodeling and airflow obstruction. We have previously observed that long-term treatment with inhaled corticosteroids can not only reduce bronchial inflammation, but can also attenuate lung function decline in moderate-severe COPD. We hypothesized that inhaled corticosteroids and current smoking modulate bronchial extracellular matrix components in COPD.
To compare major extracellular matrix components (elastic fibers; proteoglycans [versican, decorin]; collagens type I and III) in bronchial biopsies 1) after 30-months inhaled steroids treatment or placebo; and 2) between current and ex-smokers with COPD.
We included 64 moderate-severe, steroid-naive COPD patients (24/40 (ex)-smokers, 62±7 years, 46 (31–54) packyears, post-bronchodilator forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) 62±9% predicted) at baseline in this randomized, controlled trial. 19 and 13 patients received 30-months treatment with fluticasone or placebo, respectively. Bronchial biopsies collected at baseline and after 30 months were studied using (immuno)histochemistry to evaluate extracellular matrix content. Percentage and density of stained area were calculated by digital image analysis.
30-Months inhaled steroids increased the percentage stained area of versican (9.6% [CI 0.9 to 18.3%]; p = 0.03) and collagen III (20.6% [CI 3.8 to 37.4%]; p = 0.02) compared to placebo. Increased collagen I staining density correlated with increased post-bronchodilator FEV1 after inhaled steroids treatment (Rs = 0.45, p = 0.04). There were no differences between smokers and ex-smokers with COPD in percentages and densities for all extracellular matrix proteins.
These data show that long-term inhaled corticosteroids treatment partially changes the composition of extracellular matrix in moderate-severe COPD. This is associated with increased lung function, suggesting that long-term inhaled steroids modulate airway remodeling thereby potentially preventing airway collapse in COPD. Smoking status is not associated with bronchial extracellular matrix proteins.
Rationale: Although airway inflammation can persist for years after smoking cessation in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the mechanisms of persistent inflammation are largely unknown.
Objectives: We investigated relationships between bronchial epithelial remodeling, polymeric immunoglobulin receptor (pIgR) expression, secretory IgA (SIgA), airway inflammation, and mural remodeling in COPD.
Methods: Lung tissue specimens and bronchoalveolar lavage were obtained from lifetime nonsmokers and former smokers with or without COPD. Epithelial structural changes were quantified by morphometric analysis. Expression of pIgR was determined by immunostaining and real-time polymerase chain reaction. Immunohistochemistry was performed for IgA, CD4 and CD8 lymphocytes, and cytomegalovirus and Epstein-Barr virus antigens. Total IgA and SIgA were measured by ELISA and IgA transcytosis was studied using cultured human bronchial epithelial cells.
Measurements and Main Results: Areas of bronchial mucosa covered by normal pseudostratified ciliated epithelium were characterized by pIgR expression with SIgA present on the mucosal surface. In contrast, areas of bronchial epithelial remodeling had reduced pIgR expression, localized SIgA deficiency, and increased CD4+ and CD8+ lymphocyte infiltration. In small airways (<2 mm), these changes were associated with presence of herpesvirus antigens, airway wall remodeling, and airflow limitation in patients with COPD. Patients with COPD had reduced SIgA in bronchoalveolar lavage. Air–liquid interface epithelial cell cultures revealed that complete epithelial differentiation was required for normal pIgR expression and IgA transcytosis.
Conclusions: Our findings indicate that epithelial structural abnormalities lead to localized SIgA deficiency in COPD airways. Impaired mucosal immunity may contribute to persistent airway inflammation and progressive airway remodeling in COPD.
polymeric immunoglobulin receptor; bronchial epithelium; cell differentiation; epithelial remodeling; mucosal host defense
Background: The role of eicosanoids, including leukotrienes (LTs) and prostaglandins (PGs), in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is uncertain. The aim of this study was to investigate whether eicosanoids are measurable in exhaled breath condensate (EBC), a non-invasive method of collecting airway secretions, in patients with stable mild to moderate COPD, and to show possible differences in their concentrations compared with control subjects.
Methods: LTB4, LTE4, PGE2, PGD2-methoxime, PGF2α, and thromboxane B2 (TxB2) were measured in EBC in 15 healthy ex-smokers, 20 steroid naïve patients with COPD who were ex-smokers, and in 25 patients with COPD who were ex-smokers and who were treated with inhaled corticosteroids. The study was of cross sectional design and all subjects were matched for age and smoking habit.
Results: LTB4 and PGE2 concentrations were increased in steroid naïve (LTB4: median 100.6 (range 73.5–145.0) pg/ml, p<0.001; PGE2: 98.0 (range 57.0–128.4) pg/ml, p<0.001) and steroid treated patients with COPD (LTB4: 99.0 (range 57.9–170.5) pg/ml, p<0.001; PGE2: 93.6 (range 52.8–157.0) pg/ml, p<0.001) compared with control subjects (LTB4: 38.1 (range 31.2–53.6) pg/ml; PGE2: 44.3 (range 30.2–52.1) pg/ml). Both groups of patients had similar concentrations of exhaled LTB4 (p=0.43) and PGE2 (p=0.59). When measurable, LTE4 and PGD2-methoxime concentrations were similar in COPD patients and controls, whereas PGF2α concentrations were increased in the former. TxB2-LI was undetectable in any of the subjects.
Conclusions: There is a selective increase in exhaled LTB4 and PGE2 in patients with COPD which may be relatively resistant to inhaled corticosteroid therapy.
Rationale: Wood smoke–associated chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is common in women in developing countries but has not been adequately described in developed countries.
Objectives: Our objective was to determine whether wood smoke exposure was a risk factor for COPD in a population of smokers in the United States and whether aberrant gene promoter methylation in sputum may modify this association.
Methods: For this cross-sectional study, 1,827 subjects were drawn from the Lovelace Smokers' Cohort, a predominantly female cohort of smokers. Wood smoke exposure was self-reported. Postbronchodilator spirometry was obtained, and COPD outcomes studied included percent predicted FEV1, airflow obstruction, and chronic bronchitis. Effect modification of wood smoke exposure with current cigarette smoke, ethnicity, sex, and promoter methylation of lung cancer-related genes in sputum on COPD outcomes were separately explored. Multivariable logistic and poisson regression models were used for binary and rate-based outcomes, respectively.
Measurements and Main Results: Self-reported wood smoke exposure was independently associated with a lower percent predicted FEV1 (point estimate [± SE] −0.03 ± 0.01) and a higher prevalence of airflow obstruction and chronic bronchitis (odds ratio, 1.96; 95% confidence interval, 1.52–2.52 and 1.64 (95% confidence interval, 1.31–2.06, respectively). These associations were stronger among current cigarette smokers, non-Hispanic whites, and men. Wood smoke exposure interacted in a multiplicative manner with aberrant promoter methylation of the p16 or GATA4 genes on lower percent predicted FEV1.
Conclusions: These studies identify a novel link between wood smoke exposure and gene promoter methylation that synergistically increases the risk for reduced lung function in cigarette smokers.
wood smoke; cigarette smokers; airflow obstruction; gene promoter methylation in sputum DNA
The relationship between airway structural changes and inflammation is unclear in early cystic fibrosis (CF) lung disease. A study was undertaken to determine changes in airway remodelling in children with CF compared with appropriate disease and healthy controls.
Bronchoalveolar lavage and endobronchial biopsy were performed in a cross‐sectional study of 43 children with CF (aged 0.3–16.8 years), 7 children with primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD), 26 with chronic respiratory symptoms (CRS) investigated for recurrent infection and/or cough and 7 control children with no lower airway symptoms. Inflammatory cells, cytokines, proteases and matrix constituents were measured in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF). Reticular basement membrane (RBM) thickness was measured on biopsy specimens using light microscopy.
Increased concentrations of elastin, glycosaminoglycans and collagen were found in BALF from children with CF compared with the CRS group and controls, each correlating positively with age, neutrophil count and proteases (elastase activity and matrix metalloproteinase‐9 (MMP‐9) concentration). There were significant negative correlations between certain of these and pulmonary function (forced expiratory volume in 1 s) in the CF group (elastin: r = −0.45, p<0.05; MMP‐9:TIMP‐1 ratio: r = −0.47, p<0.05). Median RBM thickness was greater in the CF group than in the controls (5.9 μm vs 4.0 μm, p<0.01) and correlated positively with levels of transforming growth factor‐β1 (TGF‐β1; r = 0.53, p = 0.01), although not with other inflammatory markers or pulmonary function.
This study provides evidence for two forms of airway remodelling in children with CF: (1) matrix breakdown, related to inflammation, proteolysis and impaired pulmonary function, and (2) RBM thickening, related to TGF‐β1 concentration but independent of other markers of inflammation.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is associated with increased oxidative and nitrosative stress. The aim of our study was to assess the importance of these factors in the airways of healthy smokers and symptomatic smokers without airway obstruction, i.e. individuals with GOLD stage 0 COPD.
Exhaled NO (FENO) and induced sputum samples were collected from 22 current smokers (13 healthy smokers without any respiratory symptoms and 9 with symptoms i.e. stage 0 COPD) and 22 healthy age-matched non-smokers (11 never smokers and 11 ex-smokers). Sputum cell differential counts, and expressions of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), myeloperoxidase (MPO), nitrotyrosine and 4-hydroxy-2-nonenal (4-HNE) were analysed from cytospins by immunocytochemistry. Eosinophil cationic protein (ECP) and lactoferrin were measured from sputum supernatants by ELISA.
FENO was significantly decreased in smokers, mean (SD) 11.0 (6.7) ppb, compared to non-smokers, 22.9 (10.0), p < 0.0001. Induced sputum showed increased levels of neutrophils (p = 0.01) and elevated numbers of iNOS (p = 0.004), MPO (p = 0.003), nitrotyrosine (p = 0.003), and 4-HNE (p = 0.03) positive cells in smokers when compared to non-smokers. Sputum lactoferrin levels were also higher in smokers than in non-smokers (p = 0.02). Furthermore, we noted four negative correlations between FENO and 1) total neutrophils (r = -0.367, p = 0.02), 2) positive cells for iNOS (r = -0.503, p = 0.005), 3) MPO (r = -0.547, p = 0.008), and 4) nitrotyrosine (r = -0.424, p = 0.03). However, no major differences were found between never smokers and ex-smokers or between healthy smokers and stage 0 COPD patients.
Our results clearly indicate that several markers of oxidative/nitrosative stress are increased in current cigarette smokers compared to non-smokers and no major differences can be observed in these biomarkers between non-symptomatic smokers and subjects with GOLD stage 0 COPD.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is characterized by chronic airway inflammation. Cigarette smoke has been considered a major player in the pathogenesis of COPD. The inflamed airways of COPD patients contain several inflammatory cells including neutrophils, macrophages,T lymphocytes, and dendritic cells (DCs). The relative contributions of these various inflammatory cells to airway injury and remodeling are not well documented. In particular, the potential role of DCs as mediators of inflammation in the smoker's airways and COPD patients is poorly understood. In the current study we analyzed the effects of cigarette smoke extract on mouse bone marrow derived DC and the production of chemokines and cytokines were studied. In addition, we assessed CSE-induced changes in cDC function in the mixed lymphocyte reaction (MLR) examining CD4+ and CD8+ T cell proliferation. Cigarette smoke extract induces the release of the chemokines CCL3 and CXCL2 (but not cytokines), via the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). In a mixed-leukocyte reaction assay, cigarette smoke-primed DCs potentiate CD8+T cell proliferation via CCL3. In contrast, proliferation of CD4+T cells is suppressed via an unknown mechanism. The cigarette smoke-induced release of CCL3 and CXCL2 by DCs may contribute to the influx of CD8+T cells and neutrophils into the airways, respectively.