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1.  Reticular Basement Membrane Vessels Are Increased in COPD Bronchial Mucosa by Both Factor VIII and Collagen IV Immunostaining and Are Hyperpermeable 
Journal of Allergy  2012;2012:958383.
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.
PMCID: PMC3303780  PMID: 22500190
2.  Assessment of airway inflammation using sputum, BAL, and endobronchial biopsies in current and ex-smokers with established COPD 
Smoking effects on physiological and gross pathology in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are relatively well described. However, there is little known in COPD about the detailed interrelationships between lung function and inflammatory profiles in different airway compartments from the same individual and whether airway inflammation in these different compartments differs in ex- and current smokers with established COPD.
We compared sputum, bronchoalveolar (BAL), and airway wall inflammatory profiles in current versus ex-smokers and related this to smoking intensity and lung function in 17 current and 17 ex-smokers with mild to moderate COPD.
Current smokers had more sputum mast cells (% differential and absolute numbers), whereas ex-smokers had increased sputum neutrophils. In BAL, there was a significant increase in eosinophils in current smokers, but ex-smokers had significantly increased neutrophils, lymphocytes, and epithelial cells. There were no cell profile differences observed in airway biopsies between current and ex-smokers and there were no correlations between the individual inflammatory cell populations in any of the airway compartments. In current smokers only, smoking intensity was negatively correlated with lung function, and associated with a reduction in overall cellularity of both sputum and BAL.
Airway inflammation persists in ex-smokers with COPD, but differs from COPD current smokers. The impact of smoking appears to vary in different airway compartments and any direct relationships between cellularity and lung function tended to be negative, ie, worse lung function indicated the presence of fewer cells.
PMCID: PMC2962298  PMID: 21037956
current smokers; ex-smokers; airway cellularity; sputum; BAL; endobronchial biopsies
3.  Is childhood immunisation associated with atopic disease from age 7 to 32 years? 
Thorax  2006;62(3):270-275.
There is ongoing conjecture over whether childhood immunisation leads to an increased risk of developing atopic diseases.
To examine associations between childhood immunisation and the risk of atopic disease.
Immunisation histories of 8443 Tasmanian children born in 1961 obtained from school medical records were linked to the Tasmanian Asthma Study. Associations between immunisation status and atopic diseases were examined while adjusting for possible confounders using multiple logistic regression.
Diphtheria immunisation was weakly associated with an increased risk of asthma by age 7 years (odds ratio (OR) 1.3, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.1 to 1.7), but there was no evidence of any association for four other vaccinations studied. An increased risk of eczema by age 7 years was associated with immunisation against diphtheria (OR 1.5, 95% CI 1.1 to 2.1), tetanus (OR 1.5, 95% CI, 1.1 to 2.0), pertussis (OR 1.5, 95% CI 1.1 to 1.9) and polio (OR 1.4, 95% CI 1.0 to 1.9) but not small pox. Similar but slightly weaker patterns of association were observed between the risk of food allergies and immunisation against diphtheria (OR 1.5, 95% CI 1.0 to 2.1), pertussis (OR 1.4, 95% CI 1.1 to 1.9), polio (OR 1.4, 95% CI 1.00 to 2.1) and tetanus (OR 1.30 95% CI 0.99 to 1.70), but not with small pox. There was no evidence of associations between immunisation history and hay fever, or incidence of later‐onset atopic outcomes.
The few effects seen in this study are small and age‐dependent, and nearly all our findings support numerous previous studies of no effect of vaccines on asthma. Based on these findings, the fear of their child developing atopic disease should not deter parents from immunising their children, especially when weighed against the benefits.
PMCID: PMC2117158  PMID: 17090571
4.  Diagnosis and early detection of COPD using spirometry 
Journal of Thoracic Disease  2014;6(11):1557-1569.
The standard respiratory function test for case detection of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is spirometry. The criterion for diagnosis defined in guidelines is based on the FEV1/FVC ratio forced expiratory ratio (FER) and its severity is based on forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) from measurements obtained during maximal forced expiratory manoeuvres. Spirometry is a safe and practical procedure, and when conducted by a trained operator using a spirometer that provides quality feedback, the majority of patients can be coached to provide acceptable and repeatable results. This allows potentially wide application of testing to improve recognition and diagnosis of COPD, such as for case finding in primary care. However, COPD remains substantially under diagnosed in primary care and a major reason for this is underuse of spirometry. The presence of symptoms is not a reliable indicator of disease and diagnosis is often delayed until more severe airflow obstruction is present. Early diagnosis is worthwhile, as it allows risk factors for COPD such as smoking to be addressed promptly and treatment optimised. Paradoxically, investigation of the patho-physiology in COPD has shown that extensive small airway disease exists before it is detectable with conventional spirometric indices, and methods to detect airway disease earlier using the flow-volume curve are discussed.
PMCID: PMC4255165  PMID: 25478197
Spirometry; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); case finding; flow-volume curve
5.  Vessel-Associated Transforming Growth Factor-Beta1 (TGF-β1) Is Increased in the Bronchial Reticular Basement Membrane in COPD and Normal Smokers 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(6):e39736.
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.
Methodology/Principal Findings
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.
PMCID: PMC3387255  PMID: 22768115
6.  Chronic disease self-management and exercise in COPD as pulmonary rehabilitation: a randomized controlled trial 
Both exercise and self-management are advocated in pulmonary rehabilitation for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The widely used 6-week, group-based Chronic Disease Self-Management Program (CDSMP) increases self-reported exercise, despite supervised exercise not being a program component. This has been little explored in COPD. Whether adding supervised exercise to the CDSMP would add benefit is unknown. We investigated the CDSMP in COPD, with and without a formal supervised exercise component, to address this question.
Patients and methods
Adult outpatients with COPD were randomized to the CDSMP with or without one hour of weekly supervised exercise over 6 weeks. The primary outcome measure was 6-minute walk test distance (6MWD). Secondary outcomes included self-reported exercise, exercise stage of change, exercise self-efficacy, breathlessness, quality of life, and self-management behaviors. Within- and between-group differences were analyzed on an intention-to-treat basis.
Of 84 subjects recruited, 15 withdrew. 6MWD increased similarly in both groups: CDSMP-plus-exercise (intervention group) by 18.6±46.2 m; CDSMP-alone (control group) by 20.0±46.2 m. There was no significant difference for any secondary outcome.
The CDSMP produced à small statistically significant increase in 6MWD. The addition of a single supervised exercise session did not further increase exercise capacity. Our findings confirm the efficacy of a behaviorally based intervention in COPD, but this would seem to be less than expected from conventional exercise-based pulmonary rehabilitation, raising the question of how, if at all, the small gains observed in this study may be augmented.
PMCID: PMC4037329  PMID: 24876771
supervised exercise; physical capacity; 6-minute walk distance
7.  Effects of telephone health mentoring in community-recruited chronic obstructive pulmonary disease on self-management capacity, quality of life and psychological morbidity: a randomised controlled trial 
BMJ Open  2013;3(9):e003097.
To assess benefits of telephone-delivered health mentoring in community-based chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Cluster randomised controlled trial.
Tasmanian general practices: capital city (11), large rural (3), medium rural (1) and small rural (16).
Patients were invited (1207) from general practitioner (GP) databases with COPD diagnosis and/or tiotropium prescription, response rate 49% (586), refused (176) and excluded (criteria: smoking history or previous study, 68). Spirometry testing (342) confirmed moderate or severe COPD in 182 (53%) patients.
By random numbers code, block stratified on location, allocation by sequentially numbered, opaque and sealed envelopes.
Health mentor (HM) group received regular calls to manage illness issues and health behaviours from trained community health nurses using negotiated goal setting: problem solving, decision-making and action planning. Control: usual care (UC) group received GP care plus non-interventional brief phone calls.
Measured at 0, 6 and 12 months, the Short Form 36 (SF-36) and St George’s Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ, primary); Partners In Health (PIH) Scale for self-management capacity, Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression (CES-D) questionnaire, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Checklist, Satisfaction with life and hospital admissions (secondary).
182 participants with COPD (age 68±8 years, 62% moderate COPD and 53% men) were randomised (HM=90 and UC=92). Mixed model regression analysis accounting for clustering, adjusting for age, gender, smoking status and airflow limitation assessed efficacy (regression coefficient, β, reported per 6-month visit). There was no difference in quality of life between groups, but self-management capacity increased in the HM group (PIH overall 0.15, 95% CI 0.03 to 0.29; knowledge domain 0.25, 95% CI 0.00 to 0.50). Anxiety decreased in both groups (HADS A 0.35; 95% CI −0.65 to −0.04) and coping capacity improved (PIH coping 0.15; 95% CI 0.04 to 0.26).
Health mentoring improved self-management capacity but not quality of life compared to regular phone contact, which itself had positive effects where decline is generally expected.
PMCID: PMC3773640  PMID: 24014482
Preventive Medicine; Primary Care
8.  Clinical diaries in COPD: compliance and utility in predicting acute exacerbations 
Daily diaries are often used to collect data on disease activity, but are burdensome and compliance may be poor. Their use in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and impact on the prevention and treatment of exacerbations is poorly researched.
We investigated diary-keeping in COPD and ascertained items that best predicted emergency attendances for exacerbations. Participants in the active limb of a clinical trial in COPD kept daily diaries rating breathlessness, cough, sputum, physical activity, and use of reliever medication.
Data on 55 participants, 67% of whom were female, showed that overall compliance with diary-keeping was 62%. Participants educated to primary school level only had lower compliance (P = 0.05). Twenty patients had at least one emergency attendance, in whom the relative risk of an acute exacerbation for an increase in item score rose from six days prior to hospitalization, most sharply in the last two days. Even for optimal combinations of items, the positive predictive value was poor, the best combination being cough, activity level, and inhaler use.
Good compliance can be achieved using daily diaries in COPD, although this is worse in those with a poor educational level. Diary-keeping is not accurate in predicting acute exacerbations, but could be substantially simplified without loss of efficiency.
PMCID: PMC3402058  PMID: 22848156
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; daily diary; secondary prevention
9.  Clinical trial of community nurse mentoring to improve self-management in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease 
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) impacts on quality of life and is characterized by exacerbations, which increase health care utilization. Developing self-management behaviors of people with COPD is an attractive strategy to reduce exacerbations.
We investigated the effect of a program to increase self-management behaviors delivered by community health nurses, compared with usual care, on health-related quality of life and health care utilization in people with COPD following hospitalization. Participants were recruited during an admission to hospital and allocated according to domicile. The mentor role was to develop self-management strategies collaboratively over the 12-month study duration. Outcomes included quality of life and health care utilization.
Linear mixed models analyses found a significant benefit in the physical functioning and general health components of the short-form SF-36 questionnaire for the mentored arm, with the average difference between interventions being 5.60 and 4.14, respectively, over 12 months. Survival analysis using a combined endpoint of time to next acute exacerbation requiring rehospitalization or death found a significant benefit favoring the mentored group (P = 0.037).
A mentoring program designed to improve self-management behaviors in people with COPD following hospitalization increased some quality of life domains and improved important clinical outcomes.
PMCID: PMC3402057  PMID: 22848153
pulmonary disease; chronic obstructive; secondary prevention; quality of life; hospitalization
10.  Supporting health behaviour change in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease with telephone health-mentoring: insights from a qualitative study 
BMC Family Practice  2012;13:55.
Adoption and maintenance of healthy behaviours is pivotal to chronic disease self-management as this influences disease progression and impact. This qualitative study investigated health behaviour changes adopted by participants with moderate or severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) recruited to a randomised controlled study of telephone-delivered health-mentoring.
Community nurses trained as health-mentors used a patient-centred approach with COPD patients recruited in general practice to facilitate behaviour change, using a framework of health behaviours; ‘SNAPPS’ Smoking, Nutrition, Alcohol, Physical activity, Psychosocial well-being, and Symptom management, through regular phone calls over 12 months. Semi-structured interviews in a purposive sample sought feedback on mentoring and behaviour changes adopted. Interviews were analysed using iterative thematic and interpretative content approaches by two investigators.
Of 90 participants allocated to health-mentoring, 65 (72%) were invited for interview at 12-month follow up. The 44 interviewees, 75% with moderate COPD, had a median of 13 mentor contacts over 12 months, range 5–20. Interviewed participants (n = 44, 55% male, 43% current smokers, 75% moderate COPD) were representative of the total group with a mean age 65 years while 82% had at least one additional co-morbid chronic condition. Telephone delivery was highly acceptable and enabled good rapport. Participants rated ‘being listened to by a caring health professional’ as very valuable. Three participant groups were identified by attitude to health behaviour change: 14 (32%) actively making changes; 18 (41%) open to and making some changes and 12 (27%) more resistant to change. COPD severity or current smoking status was not related to group category. Mentoring increased awareness of COPD effects, helping develop and personalise behaviour change strategies, even by those not actively making changes. Physical activity was targeted by 43 (98%) participants and smoking by 14 (74%) current smokers with 21% reporting quitting. Motivation to maintain changes was increased by mentor support.
Telephone delivery of health-mentoring is feasible and acceptable to people with COPD in primary care. Health behaviours targeted by this population, mostly with moderate disease, were mainly physical activity and smoking reduction or cessation. Health-mentoring increased motivation and assisted people to develop strategies for making and sustaining beneficial change.
Trial registration
PMCID: PMC3411441  PMID: 22694996
Health-mentoring; Behaviour change; Primary care; Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; Physical activity; Smoking
11.  Evaluation of epithelial mesenchymal transition in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease 
Respiratory Research  2011;12(1):130.
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.
PMCID: PMC3198934  PMID: 21970519
cytokeratin; clefts; epithelial mesenchymal transition (EMT); inflammatory cells and S100A4
12.  Albuterol enantiomer levels, lung function and QTc interval in patients with acute severe asthma and COPD in the emergency department 
This observational study was designed to investigate plasma levels of albuterol enantiomers among patients with acute severe asthma or COPD presenting to the emergency department, and the relationship with extra-pulmonary cardiac effects (QTc interval) and lung function. Recent reviews have raised concerns about the safety of using large doses of β2-agonists, especially in patients with underlying cardiovascular comorbidity. It has been demonstrated that significant extrapulmonary effects can be observed in subjects given nebulised (R/S)-albuterol at a dose of as little as 6.5 mg.
Blood samples were collected and plasma/serum levels of (R)- and (S)-albuterol enantiomers were determined by LC-MS and LC-MS/MS assay. Extra-pulmonary effects measured at presentation included ECG measurements, serum potassium level and blood sugar level, which were collected from the hospital medical records.
High plasma levels of both enantiomers were observed in some individuals, with median (range) concentrations of 8.2 (0.6-24.8) and 20.6 (0.5-57.3) ng/mL for (R)- and (S)- albuterol respectively among acute asthma subjects, and 2.1 (0.0-16.7) to 4.1 (0.0-36.1) ng/mL for (R)- and (S)- albuterol respectively among COPD subjects. Levels were not associated with an improvement in lung function or adverse cardiac effects (prolonged QTc interval).
High plasma concentrations of albuterol were observed in both asthma and COPD patients presenting to the emergency department. Extra-pulmonary cardiac adverse effects (prolonged QTC interval) were not associated with the plasma level of (R)- or (S)-albuterol when administered by inhaler in the emergency department setting. Long-term effect(s) of continuous high circulating albuterol enantiomer concentrations remain unknown, and further investigations are required.
PMCID: PMC3135507  PMID: 21676212
13.  Basement membrane and vascular remodelling in smokers and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a cross-sectional study 
Respiratory Research  2010;11(1):105.
Little is known about airway remodelling in bronchial biopsies (BB) in smokers and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). We conducted an initial pilot study comparing BB from COPD patients with nonsmoking controls. This pilot study suggested the presence of reticular basement membrane (Rbm) fragmentation and altered vessel distribution in COPD.
To determine whether Rbm fragmentation and altered vessel distribution in BB were specific for COPD we designed a cross-sectional study and stained BB from 19 current smokers and 14 ex-smokers with mild to moderate COPD and compared these to 15 current smokers with normal lung function and 17 healthy and nonsmoking subjects.
Thickness of the Rbm was not significantly different between groups; although in COPD this parameter was quite variable. The Rbm showed fragmentation and splitting in both current smoking groups and ex-smoker COPD compared with healthy nonsmokers (p < 0.02); smoking and COPD seemed to have additive effects. Rbm fragmentation correlated with smoking history in COPD but not with age. There were more vessels in the Rbm and fewer vessels in the lamina propria in current smokers compared to healthy nonsmokers (p < 0.05). The number of vessels staining for vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in the Rbm was higher in both current smoker groups and ex-smoker COPD compared to healthy nonsmokers (p < 0.004). In current smoker COPD VEGF vessel staining correlated with FEV1% predicted (r = 0.61, p < 0.02).
Airway remodelling in smokers and mild to moderate COPD is associated with fragmentation of the Rbm and altered distribution of vessels in the airway wall. Rbm fragmentation was also present to as great an extent in ex-smokers with COPD. These characteristics may have potential physiological consequences.
PMCID: PMC2918561  PMID: 20670454
14.  Tolerance and rebound with zafirlukast in patients with persistent asthma 
The potential for tolerance to develop to zafirlukast, a cysteinyl leukotriene (CysLT) receptor antagonist (LRA) in persistent asthma, has not been specifically examined.
To look for any evidence of tolerance and potential for short-term clinical worsening on LRA withdrawal. Outcome measures included changes in; airway hyperresponsiveness to inhaled methacholine (PD20FEV1), daily symptoms and peak expiratory flows (PEF), sputum and blood cell profiles, sputum CysLT and prostaglandin (PG)E2 and exhaled nitric oxide (eNO) levels.
A double blind, placebo-controlled study of zafirlukast, 20 mg twice daily over 12 weeks in 21 asthmatics taking β2-agonists only (Group I), and 24 subjects treated with ICS (Group II).
In Group I, zafirlukast significantly improved morning PEF and FEV1compared to placebo (p < 0.01), and reduced morning waking with asthma from baseline after two weeks (p < 0.05). Similarly in Group II, FEV1 improved compared to placebo (p < 0.05), and there were early within-treatment group improvements in morning PEF, β2-agonist use and asthma severity scores (p < 0.05). However, most improvements with zafirlukast in Group I and to a lesser extent in Group II deteriorated toward baseline values over 12 weeks. In both groups, one week following zafirlukast withdrawal there were significant deteriorations in morning and evening PEFs and FEV1 compared with placebo (p ≤ 0.05) and increased nocturnal awakenings in Group II (p < 0.05). There were no changes in PD20FEV1, sputum CysLT concentrations or exhaled nitric oxide (eNO) levels. However, blood neutrophils significantly increased in both groups following zafirlukast withdrawal compared to placebo (p = 0.007).
Tolerance appears to develop to zafirlukast and there is rebound clinical deterioration on drug withdrawal, accompanied by a blood neutrophilia.
PMCID: PMC2426667  PMID: 18489783

Results 1-15 (15)