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1.  Loss of GD1-positive Lactobacillus correlates with inflammation in human lungs with COPD 
BMJ Open  2015;5(2):e006677.
The present study assesses the relationship between contents of GD1 (glycerol dehydratase)-positive Lactobacillus, presence of Lactobacillus and the inflammatory response measured in host lung tissue in mild to moderate chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). We hypothesise that there will be a loss of GD1 producing Lactobacillus with increasing severity of COPD and that GD1 has anti-inflammatory properties.
Secondary care, 1 participating centre in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
74 individuals who donated non-cancerous portions of their lungs or lobes removed as treatment for lung cancer (normal lung function controls (n=28), persons with mild (GOLD 1) (n=21) and moderate (GOLD 2) COPD (n=25)).
Outcome measures
Primary outcome measure was GD1 positivity within each group and whether or not this impacted quantitative histological measures of lung inflammation. Secondary outcome measures included Lactobacillus presence and quantification, and quantitative histological measurements of inflammation and remodelling in early COPD.
Total bacterial count (p>0.05) and prevalence of Lactobacillus (p>0.05) did not differ between groups. However, the GD1 gene was detected more frequently in the controls (14%) than in either mild (5%) or moderate (0%) COPD (p<0.05) samples. Macrophage and neutrophil volume fractions (0.012±0.005 (mean±SD) vs 0.026±0.017 and 0.005±0.002 vs 0.015±0.014, respectively) in peripheral lung tissue were reduced in samples positive for the GD1 gene (p<0.0035).
A reduction in GD1 positivity is associated with an increased tissue immune inflammatory response in early stage COPD. There is potential for Lactobacillus to be used as a possible therapeutic, however, validation of these results need to be completed before an anti-inflammatory role of Lactobacillus in COPD can be confirmed.
PMCID: PMC4322209  PMID: 25652802
2.  Administration IL-17 soluble receptor C suppresses TH17 cells, oxidative stress and hypertension in response to placental ischemia during pregnancy 
Hypertension  2013;62(6):1068-1073.
Pre-eclampsia (PE), new onset hypertension with proteinuria during pregnancy, is associated with chronic inflammation and placental oxidative stress (ROS). Chronic IL-17 increases blood pressure (MAP), autoantibodies (AT1-AA) and ROS during pregnancy. The objective of this study was to determine if TH17 suppression via IL-17RC (recombinant receptor C) decreases pathophysiology associated with placental ischemia (RUPP). On gestation day 14, mini-osmotic pumps infusing 100 pg/day of IL-17RC were implanted into pregnant rats undergoing RUPP (Reduced Uterine Perfusion Pressure), gestation day18 carotid catheters were inserted, day 19 MAP was recorded, TH17 cells, oxidative stress and AT1-AA were measured and analyzed via one-way ANOVA. MAP increased from 101 ±2 mmHg in normal pregnant, NP (n=19), to 120 ±1 mmHg in RUPP (n=17),but decreased to 110±2 mmHg in RUPP+IL-17RC rats (n=22). Pup weight decreased from 2.28 ± 0.2 g in NP to 1.96 ± 0.3 g in RUPP rats, but was significantly increased to 2.01 ± 0.1 in RUPP+IL-17RC rats. TH17 cells were 1.77% in RUPP but decreased to 0.65% in RUPP+IL-17RC rats. Urinary isoprostanes normalized in RUPP +IL-17RC rats (52 pg/μg) compared to 89 pg/μg in RUPP controls. Placental ROS was 652 RLU in RUPP, but decreased to 337 RLU in RUPP+IL-17RC rats. AT1-AA was 17.27 ± 0.7 bpm in RUPP but decreased to 5.00 ± 0.5 bpm in RUPP+IL-17RC rats. With this study, we show that infusion of IL-17RC blunts TH17s, oxidative stress, AT1-AA, and hypertension in the RUPP model of PE indicating that TH17 cells may play an important role in disease pathophysiology.
PMCID: PMC3899693  PMID: 24060899
hypertension; pregnancy; inflammation; oxidative stress
3.  Genes related to emphysema are enriched for ubiquitination pathways 
BMC Pulmonary Medicine  2014;14(1):187.
Increased small airway resistance and decreased lung elasticity contribute to the airflow limitation in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The lesion that corresponds to loss of lung elasticity is emphysema; the small airway obstruction is due to inflammatory narrowing and obliteration. Despite their convergence in altered physiology, different mechanisms contribute to these processes. The relationships between gene expression and these specific phenotypes may be more revealing than comparison with lung function.
We measured the ratio of alveolar surface area to lung volume (SA/V) in lung tissue from 43 smokers. Two samples from 21 subjects, in which SA/V differed by >49 cm2/mL were profiled to select genes whose expression correlated with SA/V. Significant genes were tested for replication in the 22 remaining subjects.
The level of expression of 181 transcripts was related to SA/V ( p < 0.05). When these genes were tested in the 22 remaining subjects as a replication, thirty of the 181 genes remained significantly associated with SA/V (P < 0.05) and the direction of association was the same in 164/181. Pathway and network analysis revealed enrichment of genes involved in protein ubiquitination, and western blotting showed altered expression of genes involved in protein ubiquitination in obstructed individuals.
This study implicates modified protein ubiquitination and degradation as a potentially important pathway in the pathogenesis of emphysema.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2466-14-187) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4280711  PMID: 25432663
Pulmonary emphysema; Surface area to lung volume ratio; Gene expression; Transcriptional analysis; mRNA; Cigarette smoking; Protein ubquitination
4.  Changes in the Bacterial Microbiota in Gut, Blood, and Lungs following Acute LPS Instillation into Mice Lungs 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e111228.
Previous reports have shown that the gastrointestinal (GI) bacterial microbiota can have profound effects on the lungs, which has been described as the “gut-lung axis”. However, whether a “lung-gut” axis exists wherein acute lung inflammation perturbs the gut and blood microbiota is unknown.
Adult C57/Bl6 mice were exposed to one dose of LPS or PBS instillation (n = 3 for each group) directly into lungs. Bacterial microbiota of the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid, blood, and cecum were determined using 454 pyrotag sequencing and quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) at 4 through 168 hours post-instillation. We then investigated the effects of oral neomycin and streptomycin (n = 8) on the microbiota at 4 and 24 hours post LPS instillation versus control treatment (n = 5 at baseline and 4 hours, n = 7 at 24 hours).
At 24 hours post LPS instillation, the total bacterial count was significantly increased in the cecum (P<0.05); whereas the total bacterial count in blood was increased at 4, 48, and 72 hours (P<0.05). Antibiotic treatment reduced the total bacteria in blood but not in the cecum. The increase in total bacteria in the blood correlated with Phyllobacteriaceae OTU 40 and was significantly reduced in the blood for both antibiotic groups (P<0.05).
LPS instillation in lungs leads to acute changes in the bacterial microbiota in the blood and cecum, which can be modulated with antibiotics.
PMCID: PMC4205020  PMID: 25333938
5.  A Comparison between Droplet Digital and Quantitative PCR in the Analysis of Bacterial 16S Load in Lung Tissue Samples from Control and COPD GOLD 2 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e110351.
Low biomass in the bacterial lung tissue microbiome utilizes quantitative PCR (qPCR) 16S bacterial assays at their limit of detection. New technology like droplet digital PCR (ddPCR) could allow for higher sensitivity and accuracy of quantification. These attributes are needed if specific bacteria within the bacterial lung tissue microbiome are to be evaluated as potential contributors to diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). We hypothesize that ddPCR is better at quantifying the total bacterial load in lung tissue versus qPCR.
Control (n = 16) and COPD GOLD 2 (n = 16) tissue samples were obtained from patients who underwent lung resection surgery, were cut on a cryotome, and sections were assigned for use in quantitative histology or for DNA extraction. qPCR and ddPCR were performed on these samples using primers spanning the V2 region on the 16S rRNA gene along with negative controls. Total 16S counts were compared between the two methods. Both methods were assessed for correlations with quantitative histology measurements of the tissue.
There was no difference in the average total 16S counts (P>0.05) between the two methods. However, the negative controls contained significantly lower counts in the ddPCR (0.55 ± 0.28 16S/uL) than in the qPCR assay (1.00 ± 0.70 16S copies) (P <0.05). The coefficient of variation was significantly lower for the ddPCR assay (0.18 ± 0.14) versus the qPCR assay (0.62 ± 0.29) (P<0.05).
Overall the ddPCR 16S assay performed better by reducing the background noise in 16S of the negative controls compared with 16S qPCR assay.
PMCID: PMC4199711  PMID: 25329701
6.  Gas exchange and pulmonary hypertension following acute pulmonary thromboembolism: has the emperor got some new clothes yet? 
Pulmonary Circulation  2014;4(2):220-236.
Patients present with a wide range of hypoxemia after acute pulmonary thromboembolism (APTE). Recent studies using fluorescent microspheres demonstrated that the scattering of regional blood flows after APTE, created by the embolic obstruction unique in each patient, significantly worsened regional ventilation/perfusion (V/Q) heterogeneity and explained the variability in gas exchange. Furthermore, earlier investigators suggested the roles of released vasoactive mediators in affecting pulmonary hypertension after APTE, but their quantification remained challenging. The latest study reported that mechanical obstruction by clots accounted for most of the increase in pulmonary vascular resistance, but that endothelin-mediated vasoconstriction also persisted at significant level during the early phase.
PMCID: PMC4070768  PMID: 25006441
fluorescent microspheres; pulmonary vasoconstriction; regional blood flow; ventilation-perfusion mismatch
7.  A Dynamic Bronchial Airway Gene Expression Signature of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and Lung Function Impairment 
Rationale: Molecular phenotyping of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) has been impeded in part by the difficulty in obtaining lung tissue samples from individuals with impaired lung function.
Objectives: We sought to determine whether COPD-associated processes are reflected in gene expression profiles of bronchial airway epithelial cells obtained by bronchoscopy.
Methods: Gene expression profiling of bronchial brushings obtained from 238 current and former smokers with and without COPD was performed using Affymetrix Human Gene 1.0 ST Arrays.
Measurements and Main Results: We identified 98 genes whose expression levels were associated with COPD status, FEV1% predicted, and FEV1/FVC. In silico analysis identified activating transcription factor 4 (ATF4) as a potential transcriptional regulator of genes with COPD-associated airway expression, and ATF4 overexpression in airway epithelial cells in vitro recapitulates COPD-associated gene expression changes. Genes with COPD-associated expression in the bronchial airway epithelium had similarly altered expression profiles in prior studies performed on small-airway epithelium and lung parenchyma, suggesting that transcriptomic alterations in the bronchial airway epithelium reflect molecular events found at more distal sites of disease activity. Many of the airway COPD-associated gene expression changes revert toward baseline after therapy with the inhaled corticosteroid fluticasone in independent cohorts.
Conclusions: Our findings demonstrate a molecular field of injury throughout the bronchial airway of active and former smokers with COPD that may be driven in part by ATF4 and is modifiable with therapy. Bronchial airway epithelium may ultimately serve as a relatively accessible tissue in which to measure biomarkers of disease activity for guiding clinical management of COPD.
PMCID: PMC3707363  PMID: 23471465
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; gene expression profiling; biologic markers
8.  Impact of Cigarette Smoke on the Human and Mouse Lungs: A Gene-Expression Comparison Study 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e92498.
Cigarette smoke is well known for its adverse effects on human health, especially on the lungs. Basic research is essential to identify the mechanisms involved in the development of cigarette smoke-related diseases, but translation of new findings from pre-clinical models to the clinic remains difficult. In the present study, we aimed at comparing the gene expression signature between the lungs of human smokers and mice exposed to cigarette smoke to identify the similarities and differences. Using human and mouse whole-genome gene expression arrays, changes in gene expression, signaling pathways and biological functions were assessed. We found that genes significantly modulated by cigarette smoke in humans were enriched for genes modulated by cigarette smoke in mice, suggesting a similar response of both species. Sixteen smoking-induced genes were in common between humans and mice including six newly reported to be modulated by cigarette smoke. In addition, we identified a new conserved pulmonary response to cigarette smoke in the induction of phospholipid metabolism/degradation pathways. Finally, the majority of biological functions modulated by cigarette smoke in humans were also affected in mice. Altogether, the present study provides information on similarities and differences in lung gene expression response to cigarette smoke that exist between human and mouse. Our results foster the idea that animal models should be used to study the involvement of pathways rather than single genes in human diseases.
PMCID: PMC3963906  PMID: 24663285
9.  Bacterial microbiome of lungs in COPD 
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is currently the third leading cause of death in the world. Although smoking is the main risk factor for this disease, only a minority of smokers develop COPD. Why this happens is largely unknown. Recent discoveries by the human microbiome project have shed new light on the importance and richness of the bacterial microbiota at different body sites in human beings. The microbiota plays a particularly important role in the development and functional integrity of the immune system. Shifts or perturbations in the microbiota can lead to disease. COPD is in part mediated by dysregulated immune responses to cigarette smoke and other environmental insults. Although traditionally the lung has been viewed as a sterile organ, by using highly sensitive genomic techniques, recent reports have identified diverse bacterial communities in the human lung that may change in COPD. This review summarizes the current knowledge concerning the lung microbiota in COPD and its potential implications for pathogenesis of the disease.
PMCID: PMC3937108  PMID: 24591822
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; bacterial microbiome; lungs
10.  miR-638 regulates gene expression networks associated with emphysematous lung destruction 
Genome Medicine  2013;5(12):114.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a heterogeneous disease characterized by varying degrees of emphysematous lung destruction and small airway disease, each with distinct effects on clinical outcomes. There is little known about how microRNAs contribute specifically to the emphysema phenotype. We examined how genome-wide microRNA expression is altered with regional emphysema severity and how these microRNAs regulate disease-associated gene expression networks.
We profiled microRNAs in different regions of the lung with varying degrees of emphysema from 6 smokers with COPD and 2 controls (8 regions × 8 lungs = 64 samples). Regional emphysema severity was quantified by mean linear intercept. Whole genome microRNA and gene expression data were integrated in the same samples to build co-expression networks. Candidate microRNAs were perturbed in human lung fibroblasts in order to validate these networks.
The expression levels of 63 microRNAs (P < 0.05) were altered with regional emphysema. A subset, including miR-638, miR-30c, and miR-181d, had expression levels that were associated with those of their predicted mRNA targets. Genes correlated with these microRNAs were enriched in pathways associated with emphysema pathophysiology (for example, oxidative stress and accelerated aging). Inhibition of miR-638 expression in lung fibroblasts led to modulation of these same emphysema-related pathways. Gene targets of miR-638 in these pathways were amongst those negatively correlated with miR-638 expression in emphysema.
Our findings demonstrate that microRNAs are altered with regional emphysema severity and modulate disease-associated gene expression networks. Furthermore, miR-638 may regulate gene expression pathways related to the oxidative stress response and aging in emphysematous lung tissue and lung fibroblasts.
PMCID: PMC3971345  PMID: 24380442
11.  A brief review of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease 
A recent study, based on a combination of multidetector computed tomography scanning of an intact specimen with microcomputed tomography and histological analysis of lung tissue samples, reported that the number of terminal bronchioles were reduced from approximately 44,500/lung pair in control (donor) lungs to approximately 4800/lung pair in lungs donated by individuals with very severe (Global initiative for chronic Obstructive Lung Disease stage 4) chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) treated by lung transplantation. The present short review discusses the hypothesis that a rapid rate of terminal bronchiolar destruction causes the rapid decline in lung function leading to advanced COPD. With respect to why the terminal bronchioles are targeted for destruction, the postulated mechanisms of this destruction and the possibility that new treatments are able to either prevent or reverse the underlying cause of airway obstruction in COPD are addressed.
PMCID: PMC3603763  PMID: 23248802
Airway obstruction; Chronic airway inflammation; Emphysematous tissue destruction
13.  Refining Susceptibility Loci of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease with Lung eqtls 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e70220.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the fourth leading cause of mortality worldwide. Recent genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified robust susceptibility loci associated with COPD. However, the mechanisms mediating the risk conferred by these loci remain to be found. The goal of this study was to identify causal genes/variants within susceptibility loci associated with COPD. In the discovery cohort, genome-wide gene expression profiles of 500 non-tumor lung specimens were obtained from patients undergoing lung surgery. Blood-DNA from the same patients were genotyped for 1,2 million SNPs. Following genotyping and gene expression quality control filters, 409 samples were analyzed. Lung expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs) were identified and overlaid onto three COPD susceptibility loci derived from GWAS; 4q31 (HHIP), 4q22 (FAM13A), and 19q13 (RAB4B, EGLN2, MIA, CYP2A6). Significant eQTLs were replicated in two independent datasets (n = 363 and 339). SNPs previously associated with COPD and lung function on 4q31 (rs1828591, rs13118928) were associated with the mRNA expression of HHIP. An association between mRNA expression level of FAM13A and SNP rs2045517 was detected at 4q22, but did not reach statistical significance. At 19q13, significant eQTLs were detected with EGLN2. In summary, this study supports HHIP, FAM13A, and EGLN2 as the most likely causal COPD genes on 4q31, 4q22, and 19q13, respectively. Strong lung eQTL SNPs identified in this study will need to be tested for association with COPD in case-control studies. Further functional studies will also be needed to understand the role of genes regulated by disease-related variants in COPD.
PMCID: PMC3728203  PMID: 23936167
14.  The Lung Tissue Microbiome in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 
Rationale: Based on surface brushings and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid, Hilty and coworkers demonstrated microbiomes in the human lung characteristic of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which have now been confirmed by others.
Objectives: To extend these findings to human lung tissue samples.
Methods: DNA from lung tissue samples was obtained from nonsmokers (n = 8); smokers without COPD (n = 8); patients with very severe COPD (Global Initiative for COPD [GOLD] 4) (n = 8); and patients with cystic fibrosis (CF) (n = 8). The latter served as a positive control, with sterile water as a negative control. All bacterial community analyses were based on polymerase chain reaction amplifying 16S rRNA gene fragments. Total bacterial populations were measured by quantitative polymerase chain reaction and bacterial community composition was assessed by terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis and pyrotag sequencing.
Measurement and Main Results: Total bacterial populations within lung tissue were small (20–1,252 bacterial cells per 1,000 human cells) but greater in all four sample groups versus the negative control group (P < 0.001). Terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis and sequencing distinguished three distinct bacterial community compositions: one common to the nonsmoker and smoker groups, a second to the GOLD 4 group, and the third to the CF-positive control group. Pyrotag sequencing identified greater than 1,400 unique bacterial sequences and showed an increase in the Firmicutes phylum in GOLD 4 patients versus all other groups (P < 0.003) attributable to an increase in the Lactobacillus genus (P < 0.0007).
Conclusions: There is a detectable bacterial community within human lung tissue that changes in patients with very severe COPD.
PMCID: PMC3359894  PMID: 22427533
COPD; bacteria; microbiome
16.  Lung eQTLs to Help Reveal the Molecular Underpinnings of Asthma 
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(11):e1003029.
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified loci reproducibly associated with pulmonary diseases; however, the molecular mechanism underlying these associations are largely unknown. The objectives of this study were to discover genetic variants affecting gene expression in human lung tissue, to refine susceptibility loci for asthma identified in GWAS studies, and to use the genetics of gene expression and network analyses to find key molecular drivers of asthma. We performed a genome-wide search for expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) in 1,111 human lung samples. The lung eQTL dataset was then used to inform asthma genetic studies reported in the literature. The top ranked lung eQTLs were integrated with the GWAS on asthma reported by the GABRIEL consortium to generate a Bayesian gene expression network for discovery of novel molecular pathways underpinning asthma. We detected 17,178 cis- and 593 trans- lung eQTLs, which can be used to explore the functional consequences of loci associated with lung diseases and traits. Some strong eQTLs are also asthma susceptibility loci. For example, rs3859192 on chr17q21 is robustly associated with the mRNA levels of GSDMA (P = 3.55×10−151). The genetic-gene expression network identified the SOCS3 pathway as one of the key drivers of asthma. The eQTLs and gene networks identified in this study are powerful tools for elucidating the causal mechanisms underlying pulmonary disease. This data resource offers much-needed support to pinpoint the causal genes and characterize the molecular function of gene variants associated with lung diseases.
Author Summary
Recent genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified genetic variants associated with lung diseases. The challenge now is to find the causal genes in GWAS–nominated chromosomal regions and to characterize the molecular function of disease-associated genetic variants. In this paper, we describe an international effort to systematically capture the genetic architecture of gene expression regulation in human lung. By studying lung specimens from 1,111 individuals of European ancestry, we found a large number of genetic variants affecting gene expression in the lung, or lung expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL). These lung eQTLs will serve as an important resource to aid in the understanding of the molecular underpinnings of lung biology and its disruption in disease. To demonstrate the utility of this lung eQTL dataset, we integrated our data with previous genetic studies on asthma. Through integrative techniques, we identified causal variants and genes in GWAS–nominated loci and found key molecular drivers for asthma. We feel that sharing our lung eQTLs dataset with the scientific community will leverage the impact of previous large-scale GWAS on lung diseases and function by providing much needed functional information to understand the molecular changes introduced by the susceptibility genetic variants.
PMCID: PMC3510026  PMID: 23209423
17.  A gene expression signature of emphysema-related lung destruction and its reversal by the tripeptide GHK 
Genome Medicine  2012;4(8):67.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a heterogeneous disease consisting of emphysema, small airway obstruction, and/or chronic bronchitis that results in significant loss of lung function over time.
In order to gain insights into the molecular pathways underlying progression of emphysema and explore computational strategies for identifying COPD therapeutics, we profiled gene expression in lung tissue samples obtained from regions within the same lung with varying amounts of emphysematous destruction from smokers with COPD (8 regions × 8 lungs = 64 samples). Regional emphysema severity was quantified in each tissue sample using the mean linear intercept (Lm) between alveolar walls from micro-CT scans.
We identified 127 genes whose expression levels were significantly associated with regional emphysema severity while controlling for gene expression differences between individuals. Genes increasing in expression with increasing emphysematous destruction included those involved in inflammation, such as the B-cell receptor signaling pathway, while genes decreasing in expression were enriched in tissue repair processes, including the transforming growth factor beta (TGFβ) pathway, actin organization, and integrin signaling. We found concordant differential expression of these emphysema severity-associated genes in four cross-sectional studies of COPD. Using the Connectivity Map, we identified GHK as a compound that can reverse the gene-expression signature associated with emphysematous destruction and induce expression patterns consistent with TGFβ pathway activation. Treatment of human fibroblasts with GHK recapitulated TGFβ-induced gene-expression patterns, led to the organization of the actin cytoskeleton, and elevated the expression of integrin β1. Furthermore, addition of GHK or TGFβ restored collagen I contraction and remodeling by fibroblasts derived from COPD lungs compared to fibroblasts from former smokers without COPD.
These results demonstrate that gene-expression changes associated with regional emphysema severity within an individual's lung can provide insights into emphysema pathogenesis and identify novel therapeutic opportunities for this deadly disease. They also suggest the need for additional studies to examine the mechanisms by which TGFβ and GHK each reverse the gene-expression signature of emphysematous destruction and the effects of this reversal on disease progression.
PMCID: PMC4064320  PMID: 22937864
18.  Small-Airway Obstruction and Emphysema in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 
The New England journal of medicine  2011;365(17):1567-1575.
The major sites of obstruction in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are small airways (<2 mm in diameter). We wanted to determine whether there was a relationship between small-airway obstruction and emphysematous destruction in COPD.
We used multidetector computed tomography (CT) to compare the number of airways measuring 2.0 to 2.5 mm in 78 patients who had various stages of COPD, as judged by scoring on the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) scale, in isolated lungs removed from patients with COPD who underwent lung transplantation, and in donor (control) lungs. MicroCT was used to measure the extent of emphysema (mean linear intercept), the number of terminal bronchioles per milliliter of lung volume, and the minimum diameters and cross-sectional areas of terminal bronchioles.
On multidetector CT, in samples from patients with COPD, as compared with control samples, the number of airways measuring 2.0 to 2.5 mm in diameter was reduced in patients with GOLD stage 1 disease (P = 0.001), GOLD stage 2 disease (P = 0.02), and GOLD stage 3 or 4 disease (P<0.001). MicroCT of isolated samples of lungs removed from patients with GOLD stage 4 disease showed a reduction of 81 to 99.7% in the total cross-sectional area of terminal bronchioles and a reduction of 72 to 89% in the number of terminal bronchioles (P<0.001). A comparison of the number of terminal bronchioles and dimensions at different levels of emphysematous destruction (i.e., an increasing value for the mean linear intercept) showed that the narrowing and loss of terminal bronchioles preceded emphysematous destruction in COPD (P<0.001).
These results show that narrowing and disappearance of small conducting airways before the onset of emphysematous destruction can explain the increased peripheral airway resistance reported in COPD. (Funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and others.)
PMCID: PMC3238466  PMID: 22029978
19.  Reduced Denitration Activity in Peripheral Lung of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 
Tanaffos  2012;11(4):23-29.
Accumulation of nitrated protein is seen in peripheral lung and cells from patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Nitrated protein causes abnormal protein function, but the nitration was believed to be an irreversible process. However, there are accumulating evidences that this process is reversible by an active denitration pathway. The aim of this study is to detect denitration activity in protein extracts from peripheral lung tissue of COPD and to compare with those in healthy subjects.
Materials and Methods
Peripheral lung tissue from 4 healthy, 4 smokers without COPD, 4 GOLD stage 1 and 4 GOLD stage 2 were used for denitration assay. Denitration activity was determined as reduction of nitro-tyrosine level of nitrated histone protein after incubation with protein extracts from peripheral lung, which was determined by western blotting. In addition, RNA is extracted from peripheral lung of 8 healthy, 7 smoking control, 8 stage 1 and 2 COPD and 10 stage 3 and 4 COPD and nitrate reductase mRNA expression was determined by real time RT-PCR.
Peripheral lung protein extracts from healthy subjects reduced nitro-tyrosine level of nitrated histone. Thus, we were able to show denitration activity in peripheral lungs. The denitration activity was slightly reduced in smoking controls, and significantly reduced in COPD patients. We also showed that the expression of the human homologue of nitrate reductase (chytochrome β2 reductase), a potential candidate of denitrase, was significanty reduced in COPD lung.
This study suggests that accumulation of nitrated protein in lung tissue of COPD may, at least in part, be induced by a reduction in denitration activity or nitrate reductase.
PMCID: PMC4153218  PMID: 25191434
COPD; Nitrotyrosine; Denitration; Nitrate reductase; Nitrative stress
20.  Ultrastructural changes in atherosclerotic plaques following the instillation of airborne particulate matter into the lungs of rabbits 
The Canadian Journal of Cardiology  2010;26(7):e258-e269.
Epidemiological studies have established that cardiovascular events account for the greatest number of air pollution-related deaths. However, the underlying structural changes are still unknown.
To investigate changes in the ultrastructure of atherosclerotic plaques in Watanabe heritable hyperlipidemic (WHHL) rabbits following the instillation of ambient particulate matter air pollution (particles smaller than 10 μm in diameter) into the lungs.
WHHL rabbits (n=8) exposed to 5 mg of ambient particles (Environmental Health Centre – 1993 [EHC-93]; suspended in saline and instilled in the airway) twice per week for four weeks were compared with control WHHL rabbits (n=8) treated with saline alone.
All abdominal aortic plaques were examined using light and electron microscopy, which showed the following: increased accumulation of macrophage-derived foam cells immediately below the endothelial plaque surface (P=0.04); increased contact between these foam cells and the dense subendothelial extracellular matrix (P<0.005) with reduction (P<0.0001) and fragmentation (P<0.0001) of this matrix; and emigration of macrophage-derived foam cells from the plaques in exposed rabbits. In addition, immunohistochemistry verified the presence of type IV collagen in the thickened extracellular matrix material subtending the endothelium.
The ultrastructure of atherosclerotic plaques in EHC-93-instilled rabbits differed from the ultrastructure observed in rabbits that did not receive EHC-93. These ultrastructural differences are consistent with greater endothelial instability in the plaques of atherosclerosis-prone rabbits.
PMCID: PMC2950725  PMID: 20847974
Air pollution (PM10); Atherosclerosis; Electron microscopy; Watanabe heritable hyperlipidemic rabbits
21.  Persistent Pneumocystis colonization leads to the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in a non-human primate model of AIDS 
The Journal of infectious diseases  2010;202(2):302-312.
HIV-infected patients are at increased risk for development of pulmonary complications, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Inflammation associated with sub-clinical infection has been postulated to promote COPD. Persistence of Pneumocystis (Pc) is associated with HIV and COPD, although a causal relationship has not been established. We used a simian/human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV) model of HIV infection to study pulmonary effects of Pc colonization. SHIV-infected/Pc-colonized monkeys developed progressive obstructive pulmonary disease characterized by increased emphysematous tissue and bronchial-associated lymphoid tissue. Elevated Th2 cytokines and pro-inflammatory mediators in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid coincided with Pc colonization and pulmonary function decline. These results support the concept that an infectious agent contributes to development of HIV-associated lung disease and suggests that Pc colonization may be a risk factor for the development of HIV-associated COPD. Furthermore, this model allows examination of early host responses important to disease progression thus identifying potential therapeutic targets for COPD.
PMCID: PMC2946196  PMID: 20533880
Pneumocystis; COPD; SHIV; AIDS; HIV
22.  Differential Expression of Tissue Repair Genes in the Pathogenesis of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 
Rationale: The airflow limitation that defines severity of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is caused by a combination of small airway obstruction and emphysematous lung destruction.
Objectives: To examine the hypothesis that small airway obstructive and emphysematous destructive lesions are produced by differential expression of genes associated with tissue repair.
Methods: The expression of 54 genes associated with repair of repetitively damaged tissue was measured in 136 paired samples of small bronchioles and surrounding lung tissue separated by laser capture microdissection. These samples were collected from 63 patients at different levels of disease severity who required surgery for either lung cancer or lung transplantation for very severe COPD. Gene expression was measured by quantitative polymerase chain reaction in these paired samples and compared with the FEV1 by linear regression analysis.
Measurements and Main Results: After corrections for false discovery rates, only 2 of 10 genes (serpin peptidase inhibitor/plasminogen activator inhibitor member 2 and matrix metalloproteinase [MMP] 10) increased, whereas 8 (MMP2, integrin-α1, vascular endothelial growth factor, a disintegrin and metallopeptidase domain 33, scatter factor/hepatocyte growth factor, tissue inhibitor of matrix metalloproteinase-2, fibronectin, and collagen 3α1) decreased in small airways in association with FEV1. In contrast, 8/12 genes (early growth response factor 1, MMP1, MMP9, MMP10, plasminogen activator urokinase, plasminogen activator urokinase receptor, tumor necrosis factor, and IL13) increased and 4/12 (MMP2, tissue inhibitor of matrix metalloproteinase-1, collagen 1α1, and transforming growth factor-β3) decreased in the surrounding lung tissue in association with progression of COPD.
Conclusions: The progression of COPD is associated with the differential expression of a cluster of genes that favor the degradation of the tissue surrounding the small conducting airways.
PMCID: PMC2894408  PMID: 20075389
emphysema; pulmonary disease, chronic obstructive; polymerase chain reaction; laser microdissection; nucleic acid amplification techniques
23.  Targeting Phosphoinositide-3-Kinase-δ with Theophylline Reverses Corticosteroid Insensitivity in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 
Rationale: Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) show a poor response to corticosteroids. This has been linked to a reduction of histone deacetylase-2 as a result of oxidative stress and is reversed by theophylline.
Objectives: To determine the role of phosphoinositide-3-kinase-delta (PI3K-δ) on the development of corticosteroid insensitivity in COPD and under oxidative stress, and as a target for theophylline.
Methods: Corticosteroid sensitivity was determined as the 50% inhibitory concentration of dexamethasone on tumor necrosis factor-α–induced interleukin-8 release in peripheral blood mononuclear cells from patients with COPD (n = 17) and compared with that of nonsmoking (n = 8) and smoking (n = 7) control subjects. The effect of theophylline and a selective PI3K-δ inhibitor (IC87114) on restoration of corticosteroid sensitivity was confirmed in cigarette smoke–exposed mice.
Measurements and Main Results: Peripheral blood mononuclear cells of COPD (50% inhibitory concentration of dexamethasone: 156.8 ± 32.6 nM) were less corticosteroid sensitive than those of nonsmoking (41.2 ± 10.5 nM; P = 0.018) and smoking control subjects (47.5 ± 19.6 nM; P = 0.031). Corticosteroid insensitivity and reduced histone deacetylase-2 activity after oxidative stress were reversed by a non-selective PI3K inhibitor (LY294002) and low concentrations of theophylline. Theophylline was a potent selective inhibitor of oxidant-activated PI3K-δ, which was up-regulated in peripheral lung tissue of patients with COPD. Furthermore, cells with knock-down of PI3K-δ failed to develop corticosteroid insensitivity with oxidative stress. Both theophylline and IC87114, combined with dexamethasone, inhibited corticosteroid-insensitive lung inflammation in cigarette–smoke-exposed mice in vivo.
Conclusions: Inhibition of oxidative stress dependent PI3K-δ activation by a selective inhibitor or theophylline provides a novel approach to reversing corticosteroid insensitivity in COPD.
PMCID: PMC2970861  PMID: 20224070
Histone deacetylase 2; dexamethasone; cigarette smoke; oxidative stress; RNA interference
24.  Effects of CT Section Thickness and Reconstruction Kernel on Emphysema Quantification: Relationship to the Magnitude of the CT Emphysema Index 
Academic radiology  2010;17(2):146.
Rationale and Objectives
CT section thickness and reconstruction kernel each influence CT measurements of emphysema. This study was performed to assess whether their effects are related to the magnitude of the measurement.
Materials and Methods
Low-radiation-dose multidetector CT was performed in 21 subjects representing a wide range of emphysema severity. Images were reconstructed using 20 different combinations of section thickness and reconstruction kernel. Emphysema index values were determined as the percentage of lung pixels having attenuation lower than multiple thresholds ranging from −960 HU to −890 HU. The index values obtained from the different thickness-kernel combinations were compared by repeated measures ANOVA and Bland-Altman plots of mean vs. difference, and correlated with quantitative histology (mean linear intercept, Lm) in a subset of resected lung specimens.
The effects of section thickness and reconstruction kernel on the emphysema index were significant (p<0.001) and diminished as the index threshold was raised. The changes in index values due to changing the thickness-kernel combination were largest for subjects with intermediate index values (10–30%), and became progressively smaller for those with lower and higher index values. This pattern was consistent regardless of the thickness-kernel combinations compared and the HU threshold used. Correlations between the emphysema index values obtained with each thickness-kernel combination and Lm ranged from r=0.55–0.68 (p=0.007–0.03).
The effects of CT section thickness and kernel on emphysema index values varied systematically with the magnitude of the emphysema index. All reconstruction techniques provided significant correlations with quantitative histology.
PMCID: PMC2818169  PMID: 19931472
Emphysema; computed tomography; histology
25.  What Drives the Peripheral Lung–Remodeling Process in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease? 
The smaller airways (<2 mm in diameter) offer little resistance in normal lungs but become the major site of obstruction in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). We examined bronchiolar remodeling in COPD by combining quantitative histology, micro-computed tomography (CT), and gene expression studies. Volumes of bronchiolar tissue, total collagen, collagen-1, and collagen-3 were measured in lung tissue from 52 patients with different levels of COPD severity. Micro-CT was used to measure the number and lumen area of terminal bronchioles in four lungs removed before lung transplantation and in four donor lungs that served as controls. Laser capture microdissection provided 136 paired samples of bronchiolar and surrounding lung tissue from 63 patients and the gene expression of a cluster of tissue repair genes was compared. This study shows that total bronchiolar tissue decreased with progression of COPD and was associated with a reduction in total collagen and relative increase in collagen-3 over collagen-1. The micro-CT studies showed a 10-fold reduction in terminal bronchiolar number and a 100-fold reduction in lumen area. Interestingly, most genes associated with tissue accumulation during repair decreased their expression in both airways and in the surrounding lung as FEV1 declined, but eight genes previously associated with COPD increased expression in the surrounding lung tissue. Our study shows that small airway remodeling is associated with narrowing and obliteration of the terminal bronchioles that begins before emphysematous destruction in COPD and in relation to differential expression of tissue repair genes in the airways and surrounding lung.
PMCID: PMC2797069  PMID: 20008873
bronchiolitis; small airway obstruction; emphysema; COPD

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