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1.  Metabolic load during strength training or NMES in individuals with COPD: results from the DICES trial 
BMC Pulmonary Medicine  2014;14:146.
Strength training and neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) are effective training modalities for improving muscle function, exercise performance and health status in individuals with COPD. The aim of the present study was to analyze the metabolic load of these training modalities at baseline, half-way, and at the end of an eight-week interdisciplinary pulmonary rehabilitation program in a subgroup of individuals with COPD of the DICES trial.
Of 24 individuals with COPD (FEV1: 34 ± 2% predicted, men: 58%, age: 66 (61–68) years), peak oxygen uptake (VO2), peak minute ventilation (VE), heart rate, oxygen saturation and symptom scores were assessed during HF-NMES (75 Hz), LF-NMES (15 Hz) and strength training at three moments during their pulmonary rehabilitation program.
Intervention-related peak VO2 did not change over time during HF-NMES, LF-NMES or strength training. Intervention-related peak VE did not change over time during strength training or LF-NMES and increased slightly, but significantly over time during HF-NMES. Peak VO2 and VE were significantly higher during strength training compared to HF-NMES or LF-NMES. Oxygen saturation significantly decreased after the first measurements during HF-NMES and strength training group to baseline, while no significant changes in oxygen saturation were observed during the other measurements. Heart rate significantly increased compared to baseline in all groups at all moments and was significantly higher after strength training compared to HF-NMES or LF-NMES. Median end scores (points) for dyspnea, fatigue and muscle pain ranged from 1 to 3, from 0.5 to 2 and from 0 to 6 after HF-NMES, from 2 to 3, from 2 to 5 and from 0 to 9 after LF-NMES and from 2 to 5, from 1.5 to 4 and from 0 to 28 after strength training respectively.
To conclude, the metabolic load and symptom scores remain acceptable low over time with increasing training loads during HF-NMES, LF-NMES or strength training.
Trial registration
Trial registration:NTR2322
PMCID: PMC4236758  PMID: 25182377
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; Neuromuscular electrical stimulation; Pulmonary rehabilitation; Strength training
2.  Influence of diet and obesity on COPD development and outcomes 
The global increase in the prevalence and incidence of obesity has called serious attention to this issue as a major public health concern. Obesity is associated with many chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes, and recently the role of overweight and obesity in lung disease has received new interest. Independently of obesity, diet also plays a role as a risk factor for many chronic diseases, and evidence is accumulating to support a role for diet in the prevention and management of several lung diseases. Chronic obstructive lung disease is the third-leading cause of death globally, and both obesity and diet appear to play roles in its pathophysiology. Obesity has been associated with decreased lung-function measures in population-based studies, with increased prevalence of several lung diseases and with compromised pulmonary function. In contrast, obesity has a protective effect against mortality in severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Nutrient intake and dietary patterns have also been associated with lung-function measures and the development and progression of COPD. Taken together, this suggests that a focus on obesity and diet should be part of public health campaigns to reduce the burden of lung disease, and could have important implications for clinicians in the management of their patients. Future research should also focus on elucidating these relationships in diverse populations and age-groups, and on understanding the complex interaction between behavior, environment, and genetics in the development and progression of COPD. The goal of this article is to review current evidence regarding the role that obesity and diet play in the development of COPD, and in COPD-related outcomes.
PMCID: PMC4130708  PMID: 25125974
diet; obesity; nutrition; lung function; COPD
3.  Similar matrix alterations in alveolar and small airway walls of COPD patients 
Remodelling in COPD has at least two dimensions: small airway wall thickening and destruction of alveolar walls. Recent studies indicate that there is some similarity between alveolar and small airway wall matrix remodelling. The aim of this study was to characterise and assess similarities in alveolar and small airway wall matrix remodelling, and TGF-β signalling in COPD patients of different GOLD stages.
Lung tissue sections of 14 smoking controls, 16 GOLD II and 19 GOLD IV patients were included and stained for elastin and collagens as well as hyaluronan, a glycosaminoglycan matrix component and pSMAD2.
Elastin was significantly decreased in COPD patients not only in alveolar, but also in small airway walls. Interestingly, both collagen and hyaluronan were increased in alveolar as well as small airway walls. The matrix changes were highly comparable between GOLD stages, with collagen content in the alveolar wall increasing further in GOLD IV. A calculated remodelling index, defined as elastin divided over collagen and hyaluronan, was decreased significantly in GOLD II and further lowered in GOLD IV patients, suggesting that matrix component alterations are involved in progressive airflow limitation. Interestingly, there was a positive correlation present between the alveolar and small airway wall stainings of the matrix components, as well as for pSMAD2. No differences in pSMAD2 staining between controls and COPD patients were found.
In conclusion, remodelling in the alveolar and small airway wall in COPD is markedly similar and already present in moderate COPD. Notably, alveolar collagen and a remodelling index relate to lung function.
PMCID: PMC4055380  PMID: 24886452
4.  Associations between COPD related manifestations: a cross-sectional study 
Respiratory Research  2013;14(1):129.
Cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and emphysema are associated with COPD. Associations between these factors and whether they predict all-cause mortality in COPD patients are not well understood. Therefore, we examined associations between markers of cardiovascular disease (coronary artery calcification [CAC], thoracic aortic calcification [TAC] and arterial stiffness), bone density (bone attenuation of the thoracic vertebrae), emphysema (PI-950 and 15th percentile) and all-cause mortality in a COPD cohort.
We assessed CAC, TAC, bone attenuation of the thoracic vertebrae, PI-950 and 15th percentile on low-dose chest computed tomography in COPD subjects. We measured arterial stiffness as carotid-radial pulse wave velocity (PWV), and identified deaths from the national register.
We studied 119 COPD subjects; aged 67.8 ±7.3, 66% were males and mean FEV1% predicted was 46.0 ±17.5. Subjects were classified into three pre-specificed groups: CAC = 0 (n = 14), 0 < CAC ≤ 400 (n = 41) and CAC > 400 (n = 64). Subjects with higher CAC were more likely to be older (p < 0.001) and male (p = 0.03), and more likely to have higher systolic blood pressure (p = 0.001) and a history of hypertension (p = 0.002) or ischemic heart disease (p = 0.003). Higher CAC was associated with higher PWV (OR 1.62, p = 0.04) and lower bone attenuation (OR 0.32, p = 0.02), but not with 15th percentile, after adjustment for age, sex and pack-years of smoking. In a Cox proportional hazards model, CAC, TAC and 15th percentile predicted all-cause mortality (HR 2.01, 2.09 and 0.66, respectively).
Increased CAC was associated with increased arterial stiffness and lower bone density in a COPD cohort. In addition, CAC, TAC and extent of emphysema predicted all-cause mortality.
Trial registration
Lothian NHS Board, Lothian Research Ethics Committee, LREC/2003/8/28.
PMCID: PMC3840707  PMID: 24251912
Arterial calcification; Arterial stiffness; Bone density; Cardiovascular disease; Co-morbidity; Computed tomography; COPD; Emphysema; Mortality; Osteoporosis
5.  Casein protein results in higher prandial and exercise induced whole body protein anabolism than whey protein in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 
Exercise is known to improve physical functioning and health status in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Recently, disturbances in protein turnover and amino acid kinetics have been observed after exercise in COPD. The objective was to investigate which dairy protein is able to positively influence the protein metabolic response to exercise in COPD.
Materials and Methods
8 COPD patients and 8 healthy subjects performed a cycle test on two days while ingesting casein or whey protein. Whole body protein breakdown (WbPB), synthesis (WbPS), splanchnic amino acid extraction (SPE), and NetWbPS (=WbPS–WbPB) were measured using stable isotope methodology during 20 minutes of exercise (at 50% peak work load of COPD group). The controls performed a second exercise test at the same relative workload. Exercise was followed by 1 hour of recovery.
In the healthy group, WbPS, SPE, and NetPS were higher during casein than during whey feeding (p<0.01). WbPS and NetPS were higher during exercise, independent of exercise intensity (p<0.01). NetPS was higher during casein feeding in COPD due to lower WbPB (p<0.05). Higher SPE was found during exercise during casein and whey feeding in COPD (p<0.05). Lactate levels during exercise were higher in COPD (p<0.05) independent of the protein. Post-exercise, lower NetPS values were found independent of protein type in both groups.
Casein resulted in more protein anabolism than whey protein which was maintained during and following exercise in COPD. Optimizing protein intake might be of importance for muscle maintenance during daily physical activities in COPD.
PMCID: PMC3407276  PMID: 22512824
exercise; COPD; whole body protein metabolism; casein; whey
6.  Examining fatigue in COPD: development, validity and reliability of a modified version of FACIT-F scale 
Fatigue is a disruptive symptom that inhibits normal functional performance of COPD patients in daily activities. The availability of a short, simple, reliable and valid scale would improve assessment of the characteristics and influence of fatigue in COPD.
At baseline, 2107 COPD patients from the ECLIPSE cohort completed the Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy Fatigue (FACIT-F) scale. We used well-structured classic method, the principal components analysis (PCA) and Rasch analysis for structurally examining the 13-item FACIT-F.
Four items were less able to capture fatigue characteristics in COPD and were deleted. PCA was applied to the remaining 9 items of the modified FACIT-F and resulted in three interpretable dimensions: i) general (5 items); ii) functional ability (2 items); and iii) psychosocial fatigue (2 items). The modified FACIT-F had high internal consistency (Cronbach's α = 0.91) and it did not fit a uni-dimensional Rasch model, confirming the prior output from the PCA. The correlations between total score and each dimension were ≥ 0.64 and within dimensions ≥0.43 (p < 0.001 for all).
The original and modified FACIT-F had significant convergent validity; its scores were associated with SGRQ total score (0.69 and 0.7) and mMRC dyspnoea scores (0.48 and 0.47), (p = <0.001 for all). The scale had meaningful discriminating ability in identifying patients with poor exercise performance and more depressive symptoms.
The original and modified FACIT-F are valid and reliable scales in COPD. The modified version is shorter and measures not only total fatigue but also its sub-components in COPD.
PMCID: PMC3491053  PMID: 22913289
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; Fatigue; Exercise capacity; Health status
7.  Correlations between disease-specific and generic health status questionnaires in patients with advanced COPD: a one-year observational study 
Longitudinal studies analyzing the correlations between disease-specific and generic health status questionnaires at different time points in patients with advanced COPD are lacking. The aim of this study was to determine whether and to what extent a disease-specific health status questionnaire (Saint George’s Respiratory Questionnaire, SGRQ) correlates with generic health status questionnaires (EuroQol-5-Dimensions, EQ-5D; Assessment of Quality of Life instrument, AQoL; Medical Outcomes Study 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey, SF-36) at four different time points in patients with advanced COPD; and to determine the correlation between the changes in these questionnaires during one-year follow-up.
Demographic and clinical characteristics were assessed in 105 outpatients with advanced COPD at baseline. Disease-specific health status (SGRQ) and generic health status (EQ-5D, AQoL, SF-36) were assessed at baseline, four, eight, and 12 months. Correlations were determined between SGRQ and EQ-5D, AQoL, and SF-36 scores and changes in these scores. Agreement in direction of change was assessed.
Eighty-four patients (80%) completed one-year follow-up and were included for analysis. SGRQ total score and EQ-5D index score, AQoL total score and SF-36 Physical Component Summary measure (SF-36 PCS) score were moderately to strongly correlated. The correlation of the changes between the SGRQ total score and EQ-5D index score, AQoL total score, SF-36 PCS, and SF-36 Mental Component Summary measure (SF-36 MCS) score were weak or absent. The direction of changes in SGRQ total scores agreed slightly with the direction of changes in EQ-5D index score, AQoL total score, and SF-36 PCS score.
At four, eight and 12 months after baseline, SGRQ total scores and EQ-5D index scores, AQoL total scores and SF-36 PCS scores were moderately to strongly correlated, while SGRQ total scores were weakly correlated with SF-36 MCS scores. The correlations between changes over time were weak or even absent. Disease-specific health status questionnaires and generic health status questionnaires should be used together to gain complete insight in health status and changes in health status over time in patients with advanced COPD.
PMCID: PMC3493349  PMID: 22909154
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; Health-related quality of life; St. George’s Respiratory Questionnaire; Health status; Disease-specific health status; Generic health status
8.  Prediction and course of symptoms and lung function around an exacerbation in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease 
Respiratory Research  2012;13(1):44.
Frequent exacerbations induce a high burden to Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). We investigated the course of exacerbations in the published COSMIC study that investigated the effects of 1-year withdrawal of fluticasone after a 3-month run-in treatment period with salmeterol/fluticasone in patients with COPD.
In 373 patients, we evaluated diary cards for symptoms, Peak Expiratory Flow (PEF), and salbutamol use and assessed their course during exacerbations.
There were 492 exacerbations in 224 patients. The level of symptoms of cough, sputum, dyspnea and nocturnal awakening steadily increased from 2 weeks prior to exacerbation, with a sharp rise during the last week. Symptoms of cough, sputum, and dyspnea reverted to baseline values at different rates (after 4, 4, and 7 weeks respectively), whereas symptoms of nocturnal awakening were still increased after eight weeks. The course of symptoms was similar around a first and second exacerbation. Increases in symptoms and salbutamol use and decreases in PEF were associated with a higher risk to develop an exacerbation, but with moderate predictive values, the areas under the receiver operating curves ranging from 0.63 to 0.70.
Exacerbations of COPD are associated with increased symptoms that persist for weeks and the course is very similar between a first and second exacerbation. COPD exacerbations are preceded by increased symptoms and salbutamol use and lower PEF, yet predictive values are too low to warrant daily use in clinical practice.
PMCID: PMC3494574  PMID: 22672621
COPD; Exacerbations; CCQ; Symptoms
9.  Differences in gene expression and cytokine production by crystalline vs. amorphous silica in human lung epithelial cells 
Exposure to respirable crystalline silica particles, as opposed to amorphous silica, is associated with lung inflammation, pulmonary fibrosis (silicosis), and potentially with lung cancer. We used Affymetrix/GeneSifter microarray analysis to determine whether gene expression profiles differed in a human bronchial epithelial cell line (BEAS 2B) exposed to cristobalite vs. amorphous silica particles at non-toxic and equal surface areas (75 and 150 × 106μm2/cm2). Bio-Plex analysis was also used to determine profiles of secreted cytokines and chemokines in response to both particles. Finally, primary human bronchial epithelial cells (NHBE) were used to comparatively assess silica particle-induced alterations in gene expression.
Microarray analysis at 24 hours in BEAS 2B revealed 333 and 631 significant alterations in gene expression induced by cristobalite at low (75) and high (150 × 106μm2/cm2) amounts, respectively (p < 0.05/cut off ≥ 2.0-fold change). Exposure to amorphous silica micro-particles at high amounts (150 × 106μm2/cm2) induced 108 significant gene changes. Bio-Plex analysis of 27 human cytokines and chemokines revealed 9 secreted mediators (p < 0.05) induced by crystalline silica, but none were induced by amorphous silica. QRT-PCR revealed that cristobalite selectively up-regulated stress-related genes and cytokines (FOS, ATF3, IL6 and IL8) early and over time (2, 4, 8, and 24 h). Patterns of gene expression in NHBE cells were similar overall to BEAS 2B cells. At 75 × 106μm2/cm2, there were 339 significant alterations in gene expression induced by cristobalite and 42 by amorphous silica. Comparison of genes in response to cristobalite (75 × 106μm2/cm2) revealed 60 common, significant gene alterations in NHBE and BEAS 2B cells.
Cristobalite silica, as compared to synthetic amorphous silica particles at equal surface area concentrations, had comparable effects on the viability of human bronchial epithelial cells. However, effects on gene expression, as well as secretion of cytokines and chemokines, drastically differed, as the crystalline silica induced more intense responses. Our studies indicate that toxicological testing of particulates by surveying viability and/or metabolic activity is insufficient to predict their pathogenicity. Moreover, they show that acute responses of the lung epithelium, including up-regulation of genes linked to inflammation, oxidative stress, and proliferation, as well as secretion of inflammatory and proliferative mediators, can be indicative of pathologic potential using either immortalized lines (BEAS 2B) or primary cells (NHBE). Assessment of the degree and magnitude of these responses in vitro are suggested as predictive in determining the pathogenicity of potentially harmful particulates.
PMCID: PMC3337246  PMID: 22300531
10.  Determinants of polypharmacy and compliance with GOLD guidelines in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease 
Polypharmacy of respiratory medications is commonly observed in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The aims of this study were to investigate determinants of polypharmacy and to study the consistency of actual respiratory drug use with current Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) guidelines in pulmonary rehabilitation candidates with COPD.
Data were extracted from the records of all patients with a diagnosis of COPD referred for pulmonary rehabilitation to CIRO+ between 2005 and 2009. Use of respiratory medications, self-reported COPD exacerbations, lung function, blood gases, exercise capacity, Medical Research Council (MRC) dyspnea grade, and St George’s Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ) were recorded as part of assessment of health status.
In total, 1859 COPD patients of mean age (± standard deviation) 64.3 ± 9.7 years and with a forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) of 44.7% ± 18.2% were included. On average, patients used 3.5 ± 1.5 respiratory medications; this number increased with increasing GOLD stage, MRC score, and SGRQ scores. FEV1 (% predicted), SGRQ, and number of recent exacerbations were independent determinants of polypharmacy. Use of long-acting bronchodilators and inhaled corticosteroids was substantial and comparable in all GOLD stages. Use of corticosteroids was not restricted to patients with frequent exacerbations.
Polypharmacy of respiratory medications is common in COPD patients with persistent symptoms. In addition to severity of disease, health status is an independent predictor of polypharmacy. Actual drug use in COPD patients referred for pulmonary rehabilitation is partially inconsistent with current GOLD guidelines.
PMCID: PMC3206765  PMID: 22069360
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; management; pharmacotherapy; polypharmacy; pulmonary rehabilitation; respiratory drug use
11.  Nordic Walking improves daily physical activities in COPD: a randomised controlled trial 
Respiratory Research  2010;11(1):112.
In patients with COPD progressive dyspnoea leads to a sedentary lifestyle. To date, no studies exist investigating the effects of Nordic Walking in patients with COPD. Therefore, the aim was to determine the feasibility of Nordic Walking in COPD patients at different disease stages. Furthermore we aimed to determine the short- and long-term effects of Nordic Walking on COPD patients' daily physical activity pattern as well as on patients exercise capacity.
Sixty COPD patients were randomised to either Nordic Walking or to a control group. Patients of the Nordic Walking group (n = 30; age: 62 ± 9 years; FEV1: 48 ± 19% predicted) underwent a three-month outdoor Nordic Walking exercise program consisting of one hour walking at 75% of their initial maximum heart rate three times per week, whereas controls had no exercise intervention. Primary endpoint: daily physical activities (measured by a validated tri-axial accelerometer); secondary endpoint: functional exercise capacity (measured by the six-minute walking distance; 6MWD). Assessment time points in both groups: baseline, after three, six and nine months.
After three month training period, in the Nordic Walking group time spent walking and standing as well as intensity of walking increased (Δ walking time: +14.9 ± 1.9 min/day; Δ standing time: +129 ± 26 min/day; Δ movement intensity: +0.40 ± 0.14 m/s2) while time spent sitting decreased (Δ sitting time: -128 ± 15 min/day) compared to baseline (all: p < 0.01) as well as compared to controls (all: p < 0.01). Furthermore, 6MWD significantly increased compared to baseline (Δ 6MWD: +79 ± 28 meters) as well as compared to controls (both: p < 0.01). These significant improvements were sustained six and nine months after baseline. In contrast, controls showed unchanged daily physical activities and 6MWD compared to baseline for all time points.
Nordic Walking is a feasible, simple and effective physical training modality in COPD. In addition, Nordic Walking has proven to positively impact the daily physical activity pattern of COPD patients under short- and long-term observation.
Clinical trial registration
Nordic Walking improves daily physical activities in COPD: a randomised controlled trial - ISRCTN31525632
PMCID: PMC2933683  PMID: 20727209
12.  End-of-life care in a COPD patient awaiting lung transplantation: a case report 
COPD is nowadays the main indication for lung transplantation. In appropriately selected patients with end stage COPD, lung transplantation may improve quality of life and prognosis of survival. However, patients with end stage COPD may die while waiting for lung transplantation. Palliative care is important to address the needs of patients with end stage COPD. This case report shows that in a patient with end stage COPD listed for lung transplantation offering palliative care and curative-restorative care concurrently may be problematic. If the requirements to remain a transplantation candidate need to be met, the possibilities for palliative care may be limited. Discussing the possibilities of palliative care and the patient's treatment preferences is necessary to prevent that end-of-life care needs of COPD patients dying while listed for lung transplantation are not optimally addressed. The patient's end-of-life care preferences may ask for a clear distinction between the period in which palliative and curative-restorative care are offered concurrently and the end-of-life care period. This may be necessary to allow a patient to spend the last stage of life according to his or her wishes, even when this implicates that lung transplantation is not possible anymore and the patient will die because of end stage COPD.
PMCID: PMC2873495  PMID: 20426832
13.  Predictive value and utility of oral steroid testing for treatment of COPD in primary care: the COOPT study 
The oral prednisolone test is widely used to distinguish chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients who might benefit from inhaled steroid treatment. Previous studies used selected patient groups that did not represent the large COPD population in primary care.
The study included smokers and exsmokers with chronic bronchitis or COPD from primary care, who underwent prednisolone testing (30 mg for 14 days) before randomization in a three-year follow-up randomized controlled trial (COOPT Study). Spirometry was performed before and after the test. Responders and nonresponders were classified according to international criteria. Effectiveness of inhaled fluticasone relative to placebo was compared in terms of health status (Chronic Respiratory Disease Questionnaire), exacerbations, and postbronchodilator forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1), using repeated measurement analysis.
Two hundred eighty-six patients recruited from 44 primary care practices were randomized. Nine percent to 16% of the COPD population was classified as responder, depending on the international guideline criteria used. On average, responders did not reach the minimum clinically important difference in health status (0.29 points/year, P = 0.05), although a borderline significant effect of inhaled fluticasone was noted. Possible clinically relevant reductions in exacerbation rate (rate ratio 0.67) and FEV1 decline (39 mL/year) occurred in responders, but did not reach statistical significance.
Oral steroid testing identifies a limited proportion of COPD patients, but does not reveal any clinically relevant benefit from inhaled steroid treatment on health status. No significant effects on exacerbation rate and lung function decline occurred.
PMCID: PMC2793071  PMID: 20037682
COPD; primary care; oral steroid testing; prednisolone test
14.  IL6 and CRP haplotypes are associated with COPD risk and systemic inflammation: a case-control study 
BMC Medical Genetics  2009;10:23.
Elevated circulating levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin (IL)-6 and fibrinogen (FG) have been repeatedly associated with many adverse outcomes in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). To date, it remains unclear whether and to what extent systemic inflammation is primary or secondary in the pathogenesis of COPD.
The aim of this study was to examine the association between haplotypes of CRP, IL6 and FGB genes, systemic inflammation, COPD risk and COPD-related phenotypes (respiratory impairment, exercise capacity and body composition).
Eighteen SNPs in three genes, representing optimal haplotype-tagging sets, were genotyped in 355 COPD patients and 195 healthy smokers. Plasma levels of CRP, IL-6 and FG were measured in the total study group. Differences in haplotype distributions were tested using the global and haplotype-specific statistics.
Raised plasma levels of CRP, IL-6 and fibrinogen were demonstrated in COPD patients. However, COPD population was very heterogeneous: about 40% of patients had no evidence of systemic inflammation (CRP < 3 mg/uL or no inflammatory markers in their top quartile). Global test for haplotype effect indicated association of CRP gene and CRP plasma levels (P = 0.0004) and IL6 gene and COPD (P = 0.003). Subsequent analysis has shown that IL6 haplotype H2, associated with an increased COPD risk (p = 0.004, OR = 4.82; 1.64 to 4.18), was also associated with very low CRP levels (p = 0.0005). None of the genes were associated with COPD-related phenotypes.
Our findings suggest that common genetic variation in CRP and IL6 genes may contribute to heterogeneity of COPD population associated with systemic inflammation.
PMCID: PMC2660301  PMID: 19272152
15.  Self-perceived symptoms and care needs of patients with severe to very severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, congestive heart failure or chronic renal failure and its consequences for their closest relatives: the research protocol 
Recent research shows that the prevalence of patients with very severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), congestive heart failure (CHF) and chronic renal failure (CRF) continues to rise over the next years. Scientific studies concerning self-perceived symptoms and care needs in patients with severe to very severe COPD, CHF and CRF are scarce.
Consequently, it will be difficult to develop an optimal patient-centred palliative care program for patients with end-stage COPD, CHF or CRF. The present study has been designed to assess the symptoms, care needs, end-of-life care treatment preferences and communication needs of patients with severe to very severe COPD, CHF or CRF. Additionally, family distress and care giving burden of relatives of these patients will be assessed.
A cross-sectional comparative and prospective longitudinal study in patients with end-stage COPD, CHF or CRF has been designed. Patients will be recruited by their treating physician specialist. Patients and their closest relatives will be visited at baseline and every 4 months after baseline for a period of 12 months. The following outcomes will be assessed during home visits: self-perceived symptoms and care needs; daily physical functioning; general health status; end-of-life care treatment preferences; end-of-life care communication and care-giver burden of family caregivers. Additionally, end-of-life care communication and prognosis of survival will be assessed with the physician primarily responsible for the management of the chronic organ failure. Finally, if patients decease during the study period, the baseline preferences with regard to life-sustaining treatments will be compared with the real end-of-life care.
To date, the symptoms, care needs, caregiver burden, end-of-life care treatment preferences and communication needs of patients with very severe COPD, CHF or CRF remain unknown. The present study will increase the knowledge about the self-perceived symptoms, care-needs, caregiver burden, end-of-life care treatment preferences and communication needs from the views of patients, their loved ones and their treating physician. This knowledge is necessary to optimize palliative care for patients with COPD, CHF or CRF. Here, the design of the present study has been described. A preliminary analysis of the possible strengths, weaknesses and clinical consequences is outlined.
PMCID: PMC2391145  PMID: 18460203
16.  Cost-effectiveness of a nurse-led telemonitoring intervention based on peak expiratory flow measurements in asthmatics: results of a randomised controlled trial 
Asthma is a chronic lung disease in which recurrent asthma symptoms create a substantial burden to individuals and their families. At the same time the economic burden associated with asthma is considerable.
The cost-effectiveness study was part of a single centre prospective randomised controlled trial comparing a nurse-led telemonitoring programme to usual care in a population of asthmatic outpatients. The study included 109 asthmatic outpatients (56 children; 53 adults). The duration of follow-up was 12 months, and measurements were performed at baseline, 4, 8, and 12 months. Patients were asked to transfer their monitor data at least twice daily and by judging the received data and following a stepwise intervention protocol a nurse was able to act as the main caregiver in the intervention group. In both groups the EQ-5D and the SF-6D were used to obtain estimates of health state utilities. One year health care costs, patient and family costs, and productivity losses were calculated. The mean incremental costs were weighted against the mean incremental effect in terms of QALY.
The study population generally represented mild to moderate asthmatics. No significant differences were found between the groups with regard to the generic quality of life. Overall, the mean health care costs per patient were higher in the intervention group than in the control group. The intervention costs mainly caused the cost difference between the groups. The intervention costs the society € 31,035/QALY gained with regard to adults and with regard to children € 59,071/QALY gained.
If the outcome is measured by generic quality of life the nurse-led telemonitoring programme is of limited cost-effectiveness in the study population. From the societal perspective the probability of the programme being cost-effective compared to regular care was 85% at a ceiling ratio of € 80,000/QALY gained among the adults and 68% among the children. A decrease in the price of the asthma monitor will substantial increase the probability of the programme to be cost-effective.
Trial registration
Number: NCT00411436
PMCID: PMC2000864  PMID: 17662113
17.  Patterns of inflammation and the use of reversibility testing in smokers with airway complaints 
Although both smoking and respiratory complaints are very common, tools to improve diagnostic accuracy are scarce in primary care. This study aimed to reveal what inflammatory patterns prevail in clinically established diagnosis groups, and what factors are associated with eosinophilia.
Induced sputum and blood plasma of 59 primary care patients with COPD (n = 17), asthma (n = 11), chronic bronchitis (CB, n = 14) and smokers with no respiratory complaints ('healthy smokers', n = 17) were collected, as well as lung function, smoking history and clinical work-up. Patterns of inflammatory markers per clinical diagnosis and factors associated with eosinophilia were analyzed by multiple regression analyses, the differences expressed in odds ratios (OR) with 95% confidence intervals.
Multivariately, COPD was significantly associated with raised plasma-LBP (OR 1.2 [1.04–1.37]) and sTNF-R55 in sputum (OR 1.01 [1.001–1.01]), while HS expressed significantly lowered plasma-LBP (OR 0.8 [0.72–0.95]). Asthma was characterized by higher sputum eosinophilic counts (OR 1.3 [1.05–1.54]), while CB showed a significantly higher proportion of sputum lymphocytic counts (OR 1.5 [1.12–1.9]). Sputum eosinophilia was significantly associated with reversibility after adjusting for smoking, lung function, age, gender and allergy.
Patterns of inflammatory markers in a panel of blood plasma and sputum cells and mediators were discernable in clinical diagnosis groups of respiratory disease. COPD and so-called healthy smokers showed consistent opposite associations with plasma LBP, while chronic bronchitics showed relatively predominant lymphocytic inflammation compared to other diagnosis groups. Only sputum eosinophilia remained significantly associated with reversibility across the spectrum of respiratory disease in smokers with airway complaints.
PMCID: PMC1513598  PMID: 16740168
18.  Tumor Necrosis Factor-α +489G/A gene polymorphism is associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease 
Respiratory Research  2002;3(1):29.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is characterized by a chronic inflammatory process, in which the pro-inflammatory cytokine Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF)-α is considered to play a role. In the present study the putative involvement of TNF-α gene polymorphisms in pathogenesis of COPD was studied by analysis of four TNF-α gene polymorphisms in a Caucasian COPD population.
TNF-α gene polymorphisms at positions -376G/A, -308G/A, -238G/A, and +489G/A were examined in 169 Dutch COPD patients, who had a mean forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) of 37 ± 13%, and compared with a Dutch population control group of 358 subjects.
The data showed that the TNF-α +489G/A genotype frequency tended to be different in COPD patients as compared to population controls, which was due to an enhanced frequency of the GA genotype. In line herewith, carriership of the minor allele was associated with enhanced risk of development of COPD (odds ratio = 1.9, p = 0.009). The other TNF-α gene polymorphisms studied revealed no discrimination between patients and controls. No differences in the examined four TNF-α polymorphisms were found between subtypes of COPD, which were stratified for the presence of radiological emphysema. However, comparison of the COPD subtypes with controls showed a significant difference in the TNF-α +489G/A genotype in patients without radiological emphysema (χ2-test: p < 0.025 [Bonferroni adjusted]), while no differences between COPD patients with radiological emphysema and controls were observed.
Based on the reported data, it is concluded that COPD, and especially a subgroup of COPD patients without radiological emphysema, is associated with TNF-α +489G/A gene polymorphism.
PMCID: PMC150514  PMID: 12537602
Caucasians; COPD; Gene polymorphism; Susceptibility; Tumor necrosis factor-α

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