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1.  The Pneumonia Severity Index as a Predictor of In-Hospital Mortality in Acute Exacerbation of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(7):e0133160.
To determine whether the pneumonia severity index (PSI) can predict in-hospital mortality for AECOPD patients and compare its usefulness with the CURB65 and BAP65 indexes to predict mortality.
Demographics, clinical signs and symptoms, comorbidities, and laboratory and radiographic findings of hospitalized AECOPD patients were obtained. Univariate and multiple logistic regression analyses were used to identify the risk factors for in-hospital mortality. The PSI, CURB65 and BAP65 scores were calculated. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis was used to identify the PSI, CURB65 and BAP65 scores that could discriminate between non-survivors and survivors. To control for the confounding factor of invasive mechanical ventilation (IMV) regarding the mortality of AECOPD, subgroup analysis was performed when excluded patients who had met the criteria of IMV but who had not received the cure of IMV according to their wishes.
During the in-hospital period, 73 patients died and 679 patients recovered. Age, PaO2<60 mmHg, pH < 7.35, PaCO2≥50 mmHg, nursing home residency, congestive heart failure, liver disease, sodium<130 mmol/L, lower FEV1% and altered mental status were risk factors for in-hospital mortality. The areas under the ROC curves (AUCs) of the PSI for death were 0.847 (95% CI: 0.799-0.895). The cut-off value was 116.5 with a sensitivity of 82.2% and a specificity of 77.6%. However, the AUCs of the CURB65 and BAP65 for death were only 0.744 (95% CI: 0.680-0.809) and 0.665 (95% CI: 0.594-0.736), respectively. Subgroup analysis also showed that the PSI score could predict the mortality of AECOPD patients with an AUC = 0.857 (95% CI: 0.802-0.913), with exclusion of the patients who met the criteria of IMV but who did not receive the cure of IMV.
The PSI score may be used to predict in-hospital mortality for hospitalized AECOPD patients, with a prognostic capacity superior to CURB65 and BAP65.
PMCID: PMC4506124  PMID: 26186637
2.  Study on risk factors and phenotypes of acute exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in Guangzhou, China—design and baseline characteristics 
Journal of Thoracic Disease  2015;7(4):720-733.
To describe a study design that focuses on risk factors and patterns of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) exacerbations.
A 2-year, single centre, observational study was conducted in Guangzhou in China. The study enrolled 318 subjects with COPD aged 40-79 years, stratified into different but equally sized groups according to global initiative for chronic obstructive lung disease (GOLD) stage (including Stage 0) and 86 lung healthy controls. An assessment each year was scheduled including questionnaires, lung function testing, Chest X-ray and blood collection. A sub-group, called sub-group X, consisting of 203 subjects with COPD and 51 lung healthy controls, was selected to answer a symptom questionnaire daily (EXACT-PRO) via a BlackBerry Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) device. Upon an alert that indicated a change in daily symptom pattern, the patients were contacted by the clinic to decide whether they had experienced an exacerbation and should have an extra visit within 24-48 hours. At an extra visit, nasal and throat swabs, induced sputum and blood were collected. Air pollution, temperature and humidity were also monitored daily. A subset of sub-group X, called sub-group M that consisted of 52 COPD patients and 15 healthy controls was dedicated to measure muscle strength and a dexa scan.
More than 78% of the enrolled patients completed the study successfully. There appeared a difference between the patient groups and the controls in gender, age, body mass index (BMI), forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1), FEV1/FVC and smoking at baseline. In sub-group X 90 out of 203 (44.4%) selected COPD patients developed one or more exacerbations in the 2-year observation period. They were more severe COPD patients according to GOLD stage at study start. On average most exacerbations occurred in the month March and the least number of exacerbations occurred in October.
This study with the obtained patient dataset will allow a better insight in many aspects of exacerbations in COPD (e.g., the identification, the risk factors, phenotypes and the biomarkers).
PMCID: PMC4419302  PMID: 25973239
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); exacerbations; study design; demographics; China
3.  Air pollution and COPD in China 
Journal of Thoracic Disease  2015;7(1):59-66.
Recently, many researchers paid more attentions to the association between air pollution and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Haze, a severe form of outdoor air pollution, affected most parts of northern and eastern China in the past winter. In China, studies have been performed to evaluate the impact of outdoor air pollution and biomass smoke exposure on COPD; and most studies have focused on the role of air pollution in acutely triggering symptoms and exacerbations. Few studies have examined the role of air pollution in inducing pathophysiological changes that characterise COPD. Evidence showed that outdoor air pollution affects lung function in both children and adults and triggers exacerbations of COPD symptoms. Hence outdoor air pollution may be considered a risk factor for COPD mortality. However, evidence to date has been suggestive (not conclusive) that chronic exposure to outdoor air pollution increases the prevalence and incidence of COPD. Cross-sectional studies showed biomass smoke exposure is a risk factor for COPD. A long-term retrospective study and a long-term prospective cohort study showed that biomass smoke exposure reductions were associated with a reduced decline in forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) and with a decreased risk of COPD. To fully understand the effect of air pollution on COPD, we recommend future studies with longer follow-up periods, more standardized definitions of COPD and more refined and source-specific exposure assessments.
PMCID: PMC4311081  PMID: 25694818
Biomass smoke; air pollution; haze; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
4.  BMP4 Increases Canonical Transient Receptor Potential Protein Expression by Activating p38 MAPK and ERK1/2 Signaling Pathways in Pulmonary Arterial Smooth Muscle Cells 
Abnormal bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) signaling has been implicated in the pathogenesis of pulmonary hypertension. We previously found that BMP4 elevated basal intracellular Ca2+ ([Ca2+]i) concentrations in distal pulmonary arterial smooth muscle cells (PASMCs), attributable in large part to enhanced store-operated Ca2+ entry through store-operated Ca2+ channels (SOCCs). Moreover, BMP4 up-regulated the expression of canonical transient receptor potential (TRPC) proteins thought to compose SOCCs. The present study investigated the signaling pathways through which BMP4 regulates TRPC expression and basal [Ca2+]i in distal PASMCs. Real-time quantitative PCR was used for the measurement of mRNA, Western blotting was used for the measurement of protein, and fluorescent microscopic for [Ca2+]i was used to determine the involvement of p38 and extracellular regulated kinase (ERK)–1/2 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling in BMP4–induced TRPC expression and the elevation of [Ca2+]i in PASMCs. We found that the treatment of BMP4 led to the activation of both p38 MAPK and ERK1/2 in rat distal PASMCs. The induction of TRPC1, TRPC4, and TRPC6 expression, and the increases of [Ca2+]i caused by BMP4 in distal PASMCs, were inhibited by treatment with either SB203580 (10 μM), the selective inhibitor for p38 activation, or the specific p38 small interfering RNA (siRNA). Similarly, those responses induced by BMP4 were also abolished by treatment with PD98059 (5 μM), the selective inhibitor of ERK1/2, or by the knockdown of ERK1/2 using its specific siRNA. These results indicate that BMP4 participates in the regulation of Ca2+ signaling in PASMCs by modulating TRPC channel expression via activating p38 and ERK1/2 MAPK pathways.
PMCID: PMC3824027  PMID: 23526217
BMP4; intracellular Ca2+ concentration; TRPC; p38 MAPK; ERK1/2
5.  Sildenafil Inhibits Hypoxia-Induced Transient Receptor Potential Canonical Protein Expression in Pulmonary Arterial Smooth Muscle via cGMP-PKG-PPARγ Axis 
Transient receptor potential canonical (TRPC) proteins play important roles in chronically hypoxic pulmonary hypertension (CHPH). Previous results indicated that sildenafil inhibited TRPC1 and TRPC6 expression in rat distal pulmonary arteries (PAs). However, the underlying mechanisms remain unknown. We undertook this study to investigate the downstream signaling of sildenafil’s regulation on TRPC1 and TRPC6 expression in pulmonary arterial smooth muscle cells (PASMCs). Hypoxia-exposed rats (10% O2 for 21 d) and rat distal PASMCs (4% O2 for 60 h) were taken as models to mimic CHPH. Real-time PCR, Western blotting, and Fura-2–based fluorescent microscopy were performed for mRNA, protein, and Ca2+ measurements, respectively. The cellular cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) analogue 8-(4-chlorophenylthio)-guanosine 3′,5′-cyclic monophosphate sodium salt (CPT-cGMP) (100 μM) inhibited TRPC1 and TRPC6 expression, store-operated Ca2+ entry (SOCE), and the proliferation and migration of PASMCs exposed to prolonged hypoxia. The inhibition of CPT-cGMP on TRPC1 and TRPC6 expression in PASMCs was relieved by either the inhibition or knockdown of cGMP-dependent protein kinase (PKG) and peroxisome proliferator–activated receptor γ (PPARγ) expression. Under hypoxic conditions, CPT-cGMP increased PPARγ expression. This increase was abolished by the PKG antagonists Rp8 or KT5823. PPARγ agonist GW1929 significantly decreased TRPC1 and TRPC6 expression in PASMCs. Moreover, hypoxia exposure decreased, whereas sildenafil treatment increased, PKG and PPARγ expression in PASMCs ex vivo, and in rat distal PAs in vivo. The suppressive effects of sildenafil on TRPC1 and TRPC6 in rat distal PAs and on the hemodynamic parameters of CHPH were inhibited by treatment with the PPARγ antagonist T0070907. We conclude that sildenafil inhibits TRPC1 and TRPC6 expression in PASMCs via cGMP-PKG-PPARγ–dependent signaling during CHPH.
PMCID: PMC3824028  PMID: 23526219
sildenafil; PKG; PPARγ; TRPC; PASMCs
6.  Upregulation of Gelatinases and Epithelial–Mesenchymal Transition in Small Airway Remodeling Associated with Chronic Exposure to Wood Smoke 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e96708.
Peribronchiolar fibrosis is an important feature of small airway remodeling (SAR) in cigarette smoke-induced COPD. The aim of this study was to investigate the role of gelatinases (MMP9, MMP2) and epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in SAR related to wood smoke (WS) exposure in a rat model.
Forty-eight female Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly divided into the WS group, the cigarette smoke (CS) group and the clean air control group. After 4 to 7 months of smoke exposure, lung tissues were examined with morphometric measurements, immunohistochemistry and Western blotting. Serum MMP9 and TIMP1 concentrations were detected by ELISA. In vitro, primary rat tracheal epithelial cells were stimulated with wood smoke condensate for 7 days.
The COPD-like pathological alterations in rats exposed chronically to WS were similar to those exposed to CS; the area of collagen deposition was significantly increased in the small airway walls of those exposed to WS or CS for 7 months. The expression of gelatinases in rats induced by WS or CS exposure was markedly increased in whole lung tissue, and immunohistochemistry showed that MMP9, MMP2 and TIMP1 were primarily expressed in the airway epithelium. The serum levels of MMP9 and TIMP1 were significantly higher in rats secondary to WS or CS exposure. Few cells that double immunostained for E-cadherin and vimentin were observed in the airway subepithelium of rats exposed to WS for 7 months (only 3 of these 8 rats). In vitro, the expression of MMP9 and MMP2 proteins was upregulated in primary rat tracheal epithelial cells following exposure to wood smoke condensate for 7 days by Western blotting; positive immunofluorescent staining for vimentin and type I collagen was also observed.
These findings suggest that the upregulation of gelatinases and EMT might play a role in SAR in COPD associated with chronic exposure to wood smoke.
PMCID: PMC4011965  PMID: 24802298
7.  The Pro-Proliferative Effects of Nicotine and Its Underlying Mechanism on Rat Airway Smooth Muscle Cells 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e93508.
Recent studies have shown that nicotine, a major component of cigarette smoke, can stimulate the proliferation of non-neuronal cells. Cigarette smoking can promote a variety of pulmonary and cardiovascular diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), atherosclerosis, and cancer. A predominant feature of COPD is airway remodeling, which includes increased airway smooth muscle (ASM) mass. The mechanisms underlying ASM remodeling in COPD have not yet been fully elucidated. Here, we show that nicotine induces a profound and time-dependent increase in DNA synthesis in rat airway smooth muscle cells (RASMCs) in vitro. Nicotine also significantly increased the number of RASMCs, which was associated with the increased expression of Cyclin D1, phosphorylation of the retinoblastoma protein (RB) and was dependent on the activation of Akt. The activation of Akt by nicotine occurred within minutes and depended upon the nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAchRs). Activated Akt increased the phosphorylation of downstream substrates such as GSK3β. Our data suggest that the binding of nicotine to the nAchRs on RASMCs can regulate cellular proliferation by activating the Akt pathway.
PMCID: PMC3972239  PMID: 24690900
8.  Lung Function and Incidence of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease after Improved Cooking Fuels and Kitchen Ventilation: A 9-Year Prospective Cohort Study 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(3):e1001621.
Pixin Ran, Nanshan Zhong, and colleagues report that cleaner cooking fuels and improved ventilation were associated with better lung function and reduced COPD among a cohort of villagers in Southern China.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Biomass smoke is associated with the risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), but few studies have elaborated approaches to reduce the risk of COPD from biomass burning. The purpose of this study was to determine whether improved cooking fuels and ventilation have effects on pulmonary function and the incidence of COPD.
Methods and Findings
A 9-y prospective cohort study was conducted among 996 eligible participants aged at least 40 y from November 1, 2002, through November 30, 2011, in 12 villages in southern China. Interventions were implemented starting in 2002 to improve kitchen ventilation (by providing support and instruction for improving biomass stoves or installing exhaust fans) and to promote the use of clean fuels (i.e., biogas) instead of biomass for cooking (by providing support and instruction for installing household biogas digesters); questionnaire interviews and spirometry tests were performed in 2005, 2008, and 2011. That the interventions improved air quality was confirmed via measurements of indoor air pollutants (i.e., SO2, CO, CO2, NO2, and particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter of 10 µm or less) in a randomly selected subset of the participants' homes. Annual declines in lung function and COPD incidence were compared between those who took up one, both, or neither of the interventions.
Use of clean fuels and improved ventilation were associated with a reduced decline in forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1): decline in FEV1 was reduced by 12 ml/y (95% CI, 4 to 20 ml/y) and 13 ml/y (95% CI, 4 to 23 ml/y) in those who used clean fuels and improved ventilation, respectively, compared to those who took up neither intervention, after adjustment for confounders. The combined improvements of use of clean fuels and improved ventilation had the greatest favorable effects on the decline in FEV1, with a slowing of 16 ml/y (95% CI, 9 to 23 ml/y). The longer the duration of improved fuel use and ventilation, the greater the benefits in slowing the decline of FEV1 (p<0.05). The reduction in the risk of COPD was unequivocal after the fuel and ventilation improvements, with an odds ratio of 0.28 (95% CI, 0.11 to 0.73) for both improvements.
Replacing biomass with biogas for cooking and improving kitchen ventilation are associated with a reduced decline in FEV1 and risk of COPD.
Trial Registration
Chinese Clinical Trial Register ChiCTR-OCH-12002398
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Nearly 3 billion people in developing countries heat their homes and cook by burning biomass—wood, crop waste, and animal dung—in open fires and leaky stoves. Burning biomass this way releases pollutants into the home that impair lung function and that are responsible for more than a million deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) every year. COPD is a group of diseases that interfere with breathing. Normally, air is breathed in through the nose or mouth and travels down the windpipe into two bronchial tubes (airways) in the lungs. These tubes branch into smaller tubes (bronchioles) that end in bunches of tiny air sacs (alveoli). Oxygen in the air passes through the thin walls of these sacs into small blood vessels and is taken to the heart for circulation round the body. The two main types of COPD—chronic bronchitis (long-term irritation and swelling of the bronchial tubes) and emphysema (damage to the walls of the alveoli)—make it hard for people to breathe. Most people with COPD have both chronic bronchitis and emphysema, both of which are caused by long-term exposure to cigarette smoke, indoor air pollution, and other lung irritants. Symptoms of COPD include breathlessness during exercise and a persistent cough that produces large amounts of phlegm (mucus). There is no cure for COPD, but drugs and oxygen therapy can relieve its symptoms, and avoiding lung irritants can slow disease progression.
Why Was This Study Done?
Exposure to indoor air pollution has been associated with impaired lung function and COPD in several studies. However, few studies have assessed the long-term effects on lung function and on the incidence of COPD (the proportion of a population that develops COPD each year) of replacing biomass with biogas (a clean fuel produced by bacterial digestion of biodegradable materials) for cooking and heating, or of improving kitchen ventilation during cooking. Here, the researchers undertook a nine-year prospective cohort study in rural southern China to investigate whether these interventions are associated with any effects on lung function and on the incidence of COPD. A prospective cohort study enrolls a group of people, determines their characteristics at baseline, and follows them over time to see whether specific characteristic are associated with specific outcomes.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers offered nearly 1,000 people living in 12 villages in southern China access to biogas and to improved kitchen ventilation. All the participants, who adopted these interventions according to personal preferences, completed a questionnaire about their smoking habits and occupational exposure to pollutants and had their lung function measured using a spirometry test at the start and end of the study. Some participants also completed a questionnaire and had their lung function measured three and six years into the study. Finally, the researchers measured levels of indoor air pollution in a randomly selected subset of homes at the end of the study to confirm that the interventions had reduced indoor air pollution. Compared with non-use, the use of clean fuels and of improved ventilation were both associated with a reduction in the decline in lung function over time after adjusting for known characteristics that affect lung function, such as smoking. The use of both interventions reduced the decline in lung function more markedly than either intervention alone, and the benefits of using the interventions increased with length of use. Notably, the combined use of both interventions reduced the risk of COPD occurrence among the study participants.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that, among people living in rural southern China, the combined interventions of use of biogas instead of biomass and improved kitchen ventilation were associated with a reduced decline in lung function over time and with a reduced risk of COPD. Because participants were not randomly allocated to intervention groups, the people who adopted the interventions may have shared other unknown characteristics (confounders) that affected their lung function (for example, having a healthier lifestyle). Thus, it is not possible to conclude that either intervention actually caused a reduction in the decline in lung function. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that the use of biogas as a substitute for biomass for cooking and heating and improvements in kitchen ventilation might lead to a reduction in the global burden of COPD associated with biomass smoke.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
The US National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute provides detailed information for the public about COPD
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information about COPD and links to other resources (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information for patients and carers about COPD, personal stories, and links to other resources
The British Lung Foundation, a not-for-profit organization, provides information about COPD in several languages
The Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease works to improve prevention and treatment of COPD around the world
The World Health Organization provides information about all aspects of indoor air pollution and health (in English, French, and Spanish)
MedlinePlus provides links to other information about COPD (in English and Spanish)
PMCID: PMC3965383  PMID: 24667834
9.  Early intervention with tiotropium in Chinese patients with GOLD stages I–II chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (Tie-COPD): study protocol for a multicentre, double-blinded, randomised, controlled trial 
BMJ Open  2014;4(2):e003991.
Owing to the high and increasing morbidity and mortality, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) has become a major public health problem worldwide. Although the majority of patients with COPD are in the early stages, little attention has been paid to them, in particular regarding to early intervention. Tiotropium bromide can significantly relieve symptoms and reduce the incidence of acute exacerbations of COPD. Therefore, we hypothesise that therapy with tiotropium bromide will benefit patients with COPD with early-stage disease.
A randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled, parallel-group, multicentre clinical trial (Tiotropium In Early COPD study, Tie-COPD study) is being conducted to evaluate the efficacy and safety of long-term intervention with tiotropium in patients with COPD with early-stage disease. A total of 839 patients with COPD who satisfied the eligibility criteria were randomly assigned (1:1) to receive a once daily inhaled capsule of either tiotropium bromide (18 μg) or matching placebo for 2 years. Measurements will include forced expiratory volume in 1 s, health-related quality of life, grade degree of breathlessness related to activities, COPD exacerbations and pharmacoeconomic analysis.
This study was approved by the Ethics Committee of the First Affiliated Hospital of Guangzhou Medical University. Recruitment started in November 2011 and ended in October 2013, with 839 patients randomised. The treatment follow-up of participants with Tie-COPD is currently ongoing and is due to finish in November 2015. The authors will disseminate the findings in peer-reviewed publications, conferences and seminar presentations.
Trial registration (NCT01455129).
PMCID: PMC3931994  PMID: 24549160
COPD; Early Intervention; Tiotropium; Protocol
10.  Sodium Tanshinone IIA Sulfonate Inhibits Canonical Transient Receptor Potential Expression in Pulmonary Arterial Smooth Muscle from Pulmonary Hypertensive Rats 
Danshen, the dried root of Salvia miltiorrhiza, is widely used in clinics in China for treating various diseases, including cardiovascular diseases. Sodium tanshinone IIA sulfonate (STS), a water-soluble derivative of tanshinone IIA isolated as the major active component from Danshen, was recently reported to be effective in attenuating the characteristic pulmonary vascular changes associated with chronically hypoxic pulmonary hypertension (CHPH); however, the underlying detailed mechanisms are poorly understood. In this study, we investigated the effects of STS on basal intracellular Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]i) and store-operated Ca2+ entry (SOCE) in distal pulmonary arterial smooth muscle cells (PASMCs) exposed to prolonged hypoxia or isolated from CHPH rats. SOCE measured by Mn2+ quenching of Fura-2 fluorescence in PASMCs from rats exposed to chronic hypoxia (10% O2, 21 d) was increased by 59%, and basal [Ca2+]i was increased by 119%; this effect was inhibited by intraperitoneal injection of STS. These inhibitory effects of STS on hypoxic increases of SOCE and basal [Ca2+]i were associated with reduced expression of canonical transient receptor potential (TRPC)1 and TRPC6 in distal pulmonary arterial smooth muscle and decreases on right ventricular pressure, right ventricular hypertrophy, and peripheral pulmonary vessel thickening. In ex vivo cultured distal PASMCs from normoxic rats, STS (0–25 μM) dose-dependently inhibited hypoxia-induced cell proliferation and migration, paralleled with attenuation in increases of basal [Ca2+]i, SOCE, mRNA, and protein expression of TRPC1 and TRPC6. STS also relieved right ventricular systolic pressure, right ventricular hypertrophy, and TRPC1 and TRPC6 protein expression in distal pulmonary arteries in a monocrotaline-induced rat model of pulmonary arterial hypertension. These results indicate that STS prevents pulmonary arterial hypertension development likely by inhibiting TRPC1 and TRPC6 expression, resulting in normalized basal [Ca2+]i and attenuated proliferation and migration of PASMCs.
PMCID: PMC3547081  PMID: 23065131
STS; TRPC; SOCE; pulmonary hypertension
11.  Acute hypoxia activates store-operated Ca2+ entry and increases intracellular Ca2+ concentration in rat distal pulmonary venous smooth muscle cells 
Journal of Thoracic Disease  2013;5(5):605-612.
Exposure to acute hypoxia causes vasoconstriction in both pulmonary arteries (PA) and pulmonary veins (PV). The mechanisms on the arterial side have been studied extensively. However, bare attention has been paid to the venous side.
To investigate if acute hypoxia caused the increase of intracellular Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]i), and Ca2+ influx through store-operated calcium channels (SOCC) in pulmonary venous smooth muscle cells (PVSMCs).
Fluorescent microscopy and fura-2 were used to measure effects of 4% O2 on [Ca2+]i and store-operated Ca2+ entry (SOCE) in isolated rat distal PVSMCs.
Measurements and main results
In PVSMCs perfused with Ca2+-free Krebs Ringer bicarbonate solution (KRBS) containing cyclopiazonic acid to deplete Ca2+ stores in the sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) and nifedipine to prevent Ca2+ entry through L-type voltage-depended Ca2+ channels (VDCC), hypoxia markedly enhanced both the increase in [Ca2+]i caused by restoration of extracellular [Ca2+] and the rate at which extracellular Mn2+ quenched fura-2 fluorescence. Moreover, the increased [Ca2+]i in PVSMCs perfused with normal salt solution was completely blocked by SOCC antagonists SKF-96365 and NiCl2 at concentrations that SOCE >85% was inhibited but [Ca2+]i responses to 60 mM KCl were not altered. On the contrary, L-type VDCC antagonist nifedipine inhibited increase in [Ca2+]i to hypoxia by only 50% at concentrations that completely blocked responses to KCl. The increased [Ca2+]i caused by hypoxia was completely abolished by perfusion with Ca2+-free KRBS.
These results suggest that acute hypoxia enhances SOCE via activating SOCCs, leading to increased [Ca2+]i in distal PVSMCs.
PMCID: PMC3815740  PMID: 24255773
Calcium signaling; pulmonary venous smooth muscle (PVSM); store-operated Ca2+ entry (SOCE); intracellular Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]i)
12.  Promising therapeutic effects of sodium tanshinone IIA sulfonate towards pulmonary arterial hypertension in patients 
Journal of Thoracic Disease  2013;5(2):169-172.
Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is a lethal disease with no cure currently available. Sodium Tanshinone IIA sulfonate (STS) is a water-soluble derivative of tanshinone IIA isolated as the major active component from salvia miltiorrhiza, a kind of Chinese herbal medicine. We investigate the efficacy of STS towards treatment of PH patients.
Methods and results
Five hospitalized patients were randomly enrolled for this study. These patients were suffering from various types of serious PH without getting sufficient benefits from sildenafil treatment (20 mg tid) for at least three months. The efficacy of STS on PH was evaluated by measuring the pulmonary arterial systolic pressure (PASP), RV size by echocardiography, 6-minute walking distance (6MWD), Borg dyspnea score, and WHO functional class of PH. Patients aged from 17 to 46 (average 33±11) years old, pulmonary arterial systolic pressure (PASP) ranged from 60 to 140 mmHg, RV size ranged from 25 to 39 mm were included in study. At the endpoint of observation for 8 weeks of STS infusion, they obtained reduction of PASP in the range of 14-45 (average 28.6±12.5) mmHg, RV size in the range of 0-10 (average 4.2±1.6). All patients exhibited improved exercise capacity with an increase of 6MWD from 63 to 268 (average 138.4±40.7) meters, significantly reduced Borg dyspnea score from maximum 9 down to 1 or 0, and reduced WHO functional class of PH from III or IV down to II.
These results indicate that STS exhibits remarkable beneficiary effects on treating PH patients either alone or in concert with sildenafil.
PMCID: PMC3621926  PMID: 23585945
Pulmonary hypertension; pulmonary arterial hypertension; tanshinone IIA sulfonate
13.  A discriminant function model as an alternative method to spirometry for COPD screening in primary care settings in China 
Journal of Thoracic Disease  2012;4(6):594-600.
COPD is often underdiagnosed in a primary care setting where the spirometry is unavailable. This study was aimed to develop a simple, economical and applicable model for COPD screening in those settings.
First we established a discriminant function model based on Bayes’ Rule by stepwise discriminant analysis, using the data from 243 COPD patients and 112 non-COPD subjects from our COPD survey in urban and rural communities and local primary care settings in Guangdong Province, China. We then used this model to discriminate COPD in additional 150 subjects (50 non-COPD and 100 COPD ones) who had been recruited by the same methods as used to have established the model. All participants completed pre- and post-bronchodilator spirometry and questionnaires. COPD was diagnosed according to the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease criteria. The sensitivity and specificity of the discriminant function model was assessed.
The established discriminant function model included nine variables: age, gender, smoking index, body mass index, occupational exposure, living environment, wheezing, cough and dyspnoea. The sensitivity, specificity, positive likelihood ratio, negative likelihood ratio, accuracy and error rate of the function model to discriminate COPD were 89.00%, 82.00%, 4.94, 0.13, 86.66% and 13.34%, respectively. The accuracy and Kappa value of the function model to predict COPD stages were 70% and 0.61 (95% CI, 0.50 to 0.71).
This discriminant function model may be used for COPD screening in primary care settings in China as an alternative option instead of spirometry.
PMCID: PMC3506808  PMID: 23205284
COPD; Bayes’ Rule; spirometry
14.  Functional Polymorphisms of CHRNA3 Predict Risks of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and Lung Cancer in Chinese 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e46071.
Recently, several genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified many susceptible single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer which are two closely related diseases. Among those SNPs, some of them are shared by both the diseases, reflecting there is possible genetic similarity between the diseases. Here we tested the hypothesis that whether those shared SNPs are common predictor for risks or prognosis of COPD and lung cancer. Two SNPs (rs6495309 and rs1051730) located in nicotinic acetylcholine receptor alpha 3 (CHRNA3) gene were genotyped in 1511 patients with COPD, 1559 lung cancer cases and 1677 controls in southern and eastern Chinese populations. We found that the rs6495309CC and rs6495309CT/CC variant genotypes were associated with increased risks of COPD (OR = 1.32, 95% C.I. = 1.14–1.54) and lung cancer (OR = 1.57; 95% CI = 1.31–1.87), respectively. The rs6495309CC genotype contributed to more rapid decline of annual Forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) in both COPD cases and controls (P<0.05), and it was associated with advanced stages of COPD (P = 0.033); the rs6495309CT/CC genotypes conferred a poor survival for lung cancer (HR = 1.41, 95%CI = 1.13–1.75). The luciferase assays further showed that nicotine and other tobacco chemicals had diverse effects on the luciferase activity of the rs6495309C or T alleles. However, none of these effects were found for another SNP, rs1051730G>A. The data show a statistical association and suggest biological plausibility that the rs6495309T>C polymorphism contributed to increased risks and poor prognosis of both COPD and lung cancer.
PMCID: PMC3463594  PMID: 23056235
15.  Association between Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and Lung Cancer: A Case-Control Study in Southern Chinese and a Meta-Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e46144.
Lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) share a common risk factor in cigarette smoking and a large portion of patients with lung cancer suffer from COPD synchronously. We therefore hypothesized that COPD is an independent risk factor for lung cancer. Our aim was to investigate the intrinsic linkage of COPD (or emphysema, chronic bronchitis and asthma) and lung cancer.
The present hospital-based case-control study included 1,069 patients with newly diagnosed lung cancer and 1,132 age frequency matched cancer-free controls. The odds ratios (ORs) for the associations between each previous pulmonary disease and lung cancer were estimated with logistic regression models, adjusting for age, sex, family history of cancer, BMI and pack year smoking. In meta-analysis, the pooled effects of previous pulmonary diseases were analyzed with random effects models; and stratification analyses were conducted on smoking status and ethnicity.
In the case-control study, previous COPD was associated with the odds for increased risk of lung cancer (OR = 1.29, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.00∼1.68); so were emphysema (OR = 1.55, 95%CI = 1.03∼2.32) and chronic bronchitis (OR = 1.22, 95%CI = 0.99∼1.67); while asthma was associated with odds for decreased risk of lung cancer (OR = 0.29, 95%CI = 0.16∼0.53). These associations were more pronounced in smokers (P<.05 for all strata), but not in non-smokers. In meta-analysis, 35 studies (22,010 cases and 44,438 controls) were identified. COPD was significantly associated with the odds for increased risk of lung cancer (pooled OR = 2.76; 95% CI = 1.85–4.11), so were emphysema (OR = 3.02; 95% CI = 2.41–3.79) and chronic bronchitis (OR = 1.88; 95% CI = 1.49–2.36); and these associations were more pronounced in smokers than in non-smokers (P<.001 respectively). No significant association was observed for asthma.
Previous COPD could increase the risk of lung cancer, especially in smokers.
PMCID: PMC3460937  PMID: 23029414
16.  Community based integrated intervention for prevention and management of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in Guangdong, China: cluster randomised controlled trial 
Objective To evaluate the effects of a community based integrated intervention for early prevention and management of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in China.
Design Cluster randomised controlled trial.
Setting Eight healthcare units in two communities.
Participants Of 1062 people aged 40-89, 872 (101 with COPD and 771 without COPD) who fulfilled the inclusion and exclusion criteria were allocated to the intervention or the usual care programmes.
Intervention Participants randomly assigned to integrated intervention (systematic health education, intensive and individualised intervention, treatment, and rehabilitation) or usual care.
Main outcome measures Annual rate of decline in forced expiratory rate in one second (FEV1) before use of bronchodilator.
Results Annual rate of decline in FEV1 was significantly lower in the intervention community than the control community, with an adjusted difference of 19 ml/year (95% confidence interval 3 to 36) and 0.9% (0.1% to 1.8%) of predicted values (all P<0.05), as well as a lower annual rate of decline in FEV1/FVC (forced vital capacity) ratio (adjusted difference 0.6% (0.1% to 1.2%) P=0.029). There were also higher rates of smoking cessation (21% v 8%, P<0.004) and lower cumulative death rates from all causes (1% v 3%, P<0.009) in the intervention community than in the control community during the four year follow-up. Improvements in knowledge of COPD and smoking hazards, outdoor air quality, environmental tobacco smoke, and working conditions were also achieved (all P<0.05). The difference in cumulative incidence rate of COPD (both around 4%) and cumulative death rate from COPD (2% v 11%) did not reach significance between the two communities.
Conclusions A community based integrated intervention can have a significant impact on the prevention and management of COPD, mainly reflected in the annual rate of decline in FEV1.
Trial registration Chinese Clinical Trials Registration (ChiCTR-TRC-00000532).
PMCID: PMC2995286  PMID: 21123342
17.  Biomass fuels are the probable risk factor for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in rural South China 
Thorax  2007;62(10):889-897.
There is increasing evidence for a possible association between chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and the use of biomass fuels for cooking and heating in developing countries. Data on the prevalence of COPD and objective measurements of indoor pollution from biomass fuel have not been widely available from China. A study was undertaken to investigate the prevalence of COPD in two study communities in Guangdong province in China and to measure the association between COPD and indoor biomass fuel air pollution.
A cluster disproportional random sampling survey was performed in populations aged over 40 years in urban (Liwang) and rural (Yunyan) areas in Guangdong, China. Spirometry was performed in all subjects and a post‐bronchodilator ratio of the forced expiratory volume in 1 s to forced vital capacity of <0.70 was defined as COPD. Measurements of indoor and outdoor air pollutants were also performed in a random sample of households.
The overall prevalence of COPD in the two areas (Liwang and Yunyan) was 9.4%. The prevalence of COPD in both the whole population and a subpopulation of non‐smoking women in rural Yunyan was significantly higher than in urban Liwang (12.0% vs 7.4%, and 7.2% vs 2.5%, respectively). The use of biomass fuel was higher in rural Yunyan than in urban Liwang (88.1% vs 0.7%). Univariate analysis showed a significant association between COPD and exposure to biomass fuel for cooking. Multivariate analysis showed a positive association between COPD and urban/rural area (surrogate for fuel type and local exhaust ventilation in kitchen) after adjustment for sex, age group, body mass index, education, occupational exposure, respiratory disease in family, smoking status, life quality and cough in childhood; similar results were found in non‐smoking women. Pollutants measurements showed that concentrations of carbon monoxide, particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter ⩽10 μm, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide in the kitchen during biomass fuel combustion were significantly higher than those during LPG combustion.
Indoor pollutants from biomass fuels may be an important risk factor for COPD in rural South China.
PMCID: PMC2094241  PMID: 17483137

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