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1.  Upregulation of Gelatinases and Epithelial–Mesenchymal Transition in Small Airway Remodeling Associated with Chronic Exposure to Wood Smoke 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e96708.
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0096708
PMCID: PMC4011965  PMID: 24802298
2.  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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0093508
PMCID: PMC3972239  PMID: 24690900
3.  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
Background
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.
Conclusions
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
Background
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 http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001621.
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)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001621
PMCID: PMC3965383  PMID: 24667834
4.  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.
Introduction
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.
Method/analysis
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.
Ethics/dissemination
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
ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT01455129).
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2013-003991
PMCID: PMC3931994  PMID: 24549160
COPD; Early Intervention; Tiotropium; Protocol
5.  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.
Objective
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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).
Conclusions
This discriminant function model may be used for COPD screening in primary care settings in China as an alternative option instead of spirometry.
doi:10.3978/j.issn.2072-1439.2012.11.06
PMCID: PMC3506808  PMID: 23205284
COPD; Bayes’ Rule; spirometry
6.  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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0046071
PMCID: PMC3463594  PMID: 23056235
7.  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).
doi:10.1136/bmj.c6387
PMCID: PMC2995286  PMID: 21123342
8.  Biomass fuels are the probable risk factor for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in rural South China 
Thorax  2007;62(10):889-897.
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
Indoor pollutants from biomass fuels may be an important risk factor for COPD in rural South China.
doi:10.1136/thx.2006.061457
PMCID: PMC2094241  PMID: 17483137

Results 1-8 (8)