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1.  Variation in the Percent of Emphysema-like Lung in a Healthy, Nonsmoking Multiethnic Sample. The MESA Lung Study 
Rationale: Computed tomography (CT)-based lung density is used to quantitate the percentage of emphysema-like lung (hereafter referred to as percent emphysema), but information on its distribution among healthy nonsmokers is limited.
Objectives: We evaluated percent emphysema and total lung volume on CT scans of healthy never-smokers in a multiethnic, population-based study.
Methods: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) Lung Study investigators acquired full-lung CT scans of 3,137 participants (ages 54–93 yr) between 2010–12. The CT scans were taken at full inspiration following the Subpopulations and Intermediate Outcome Measures in COPD Study (SPIROMICS) protocol. “Healthy never-smokers” were defined as participants without a history of tobacco smoking or respiratory symptoms and disease. “Percent emphysema” was defined as the percentage of lung voxels below −950 Hounsfield units. “Total lung volume” was defined by the volume of lung voxels.
Measurements and Main Results: Among 854 healthy never-smokers, the median percent emphysema visualized on full-lung scans was 1.1% (interquartile range, 0.5–2.5%). The percent emphysema values were 1.2 percentage points higher among men compared with women and 0.7, 1.2, and 1.2 percentage points lower among African Americans, Hispanics, and Asians compared with whites, respectively (P < 0.001). Percent emphysema was positively related to age and height and inversely related to body mass index. The findings were similar for total lung volume on CT scans and for percent emphysema defined at −910 Hounsfield units and measured on cardiac scans. Reference equations to account for these differences are presented for never, former and current smokers.
Conclusions: Similar to lung function, percent emphysema varies substantially by demographic factors and body size among healthy never-smokers. The presented reference equations will assist in defining abnormal values for percent emphysema and total lung volume on CT scans, although validation is pending.
PMCID: PMC4213995  PMID: 24983825
emphysema; lung volumes; quantitative computed tomography; reference equations
2.  “Cor pulmonale parvus” in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and emphysema. The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) COPD Study 
The classic cardiovascular complication of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is cor pulmonale, or enlargement of the right ventricle (RV). Most studies of cor pulmonale were conducted decades ago.
We aimed to examine RV changes in contemporary COPD and emphysema using cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
We performed a case-control study nested predominantly in two general population studies of 310 participants with COPD and controls ages 50–79 years with ≥ 10 pack-years of smoking and who were free of clinical cardiovascular disease. RV volumes and mass were assessed using MRI. COPD and COPD severity were defined by standard spirometric criteria. Percent emphysema was defined as percent of lung regions <-950 Hounsfield units on full-lung computed tomography; emphysema subtypes were scored by radiologists. Results were adjusted for age, race/ethnicity, sex, height, weight, smoking status, pack-years, systemic hypertension and sleep apnea.
RV end-diastolic volume was reduced in COPD compared to controls (-7.8 mL, 95% CI: -15.0, -0.5 mL; p=0.04). Increasing severity of COPD was associated with smaller RV end-diastolic volume (p=0.004) and lower RV stroke volume (p<0.001). RV mass and ejection fraction were similar between the groups. Greater percent emphysema was also associated with smaller RV end-diastolic volume (p=0.005) and stroke volume (p<0.001), as was the presence of centrilobular and paraseptal emphysema.
RV volumes are lower without significant alterations in RV mass and ejection fraction in contemporary COPD (“cor pulmonale parvus”) and this reduction is related to greater percent emphysema on computed tomography.
PMCID: PMC4347835  PMID: 25440095
right ventricle; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; pulmonary heart disease; pulmonary hypertension; heart failure
3.  Genome-Wide Study of Percent Emphysema on Computed Tomography in the General Population. The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis Lung/SNP Health Association Resource Study 
Rationale: Pulmonary emphysema overlaps partially with spirometrically defined chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and is heritable, with moderately high familial clustering.
Objectives: To complete a genome-wide association study (GWAS) for the percentage of emphysema-like lung on computed tomography in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) Lung/SNP Health Association Resource (SHARe) Study, a large, population-based cohort in the United States.
Methods: We determined percent emphysema and upper-lower lobe ratio in emphysema defined by lung regions less than −950 HU on cardiac scans. Genetic analyses were reported combined across four race/ethnic groups: non-Hispanic white (n = 2,587), African American (n = 2,510), Hispanic (n = 2,113), and Chinese (n = 704) and stratified by race and ethnicity.
Measurements and Main Results: Among 7,914 participants, we identified regions at genome-wide significance for percent emphysema in or near SNRPF (rs7957346; P = 2.2 × 10−8) and PPT2 (rs10947233; P = 3.2 × 10−8), both of which replicated in an additional 6,023 individuals of European ancestry. Both single-nucleotide polymorphisms were previously implicated as genes influencing lung function, and analyses including lung function revealed independent associations for percent emphysema. Among Hispanics, we identified a genetic locus for upper-lower lobe ratio near the α-mannosidase–related gene MAN2B1 (rs10411619; P = 1.1 × 10−9; minor allele frequency [MAF], 4.4%). Among Chinese, we identified single-nucleotide polymorphisms associated with upper-lower lobe ratio near DHX15 (rs7698250; P = 1.8 × 10−10; MAF, 2.7%) and MGAT5B (rs7221059; P = 2.7 × 10−8; MAF, 2.6%), which acts on α-linked mannose. Among African Americans, a locus near a third α-mannosidase–related gene, MAN1C1 (rs12130495; P = 9.9 × 10−6; MAF, 13.3%) was associated with percent emphysema.
Conclusions: Our results suggest that some genes previously identified as influencing lung function are independently associated with emphysema rather than lung function, and that genes related to α-mannosidase may influence risk of emphysema.
PMCID: PMC3977717  PMID: 24383474
emphysema; computed tomography; multiethnic; cohort study; genetic association
4.  Pulmonary Emphysema Subtypes on Computed Tomography in Smokers 
The American journal of medicine  2013;127(1):10.1016/j.amjmed.2013.09.020.
Pulmonary emphysema is divided into three major subtypes at autopsy: centrilobular, paraseptal and panlobular emphysema. These subtypes can be defined by visual assessment on computed tomography (CT); however, clinical characteristics of emphysema subtypes on CT are not well-defined. We developed a reliable approach to visual assessment of emphysema subtypes on CT and examined if emphysema subtypes have distinct characteristics.
The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis COPD Study recruited smokers with COPD and controls age 50–79 years with ≥10 pack-years. Participants underwent CT following a standardized protocol. Definitions of centrilobular, paraseptal and panlobular emphysema were obtained by literature review. Six-minute walk distance and pulmonary function were performed following guidelines.
Twenty-seven percent of 318 smokers had emphysema on CT. Inter-rater reliability of emphysema subtype was substantial (K:0.70). Compared to participants without emphysema, individuals with centrilobular or panlobular emphysema had greater dyspnea, reduced walk distance, greater hyperinflation, and lower diffusing capacity. In contrast, individuals with PSE were similar to controls, except for male predominance. Centrilobular but not panlobular or paraseptal emphysema was associated with greater smoking history (+21 pack-years P<0.001). Panlobular but not other types of emphysema was associated with reduced body mass index (−5 kg/m2;P=0.01). Other than for dyspnea, these findings were independent of the forced expiratory volume in one second. Seventeen percent of smokers without COPD on spirometry had emphysema, which was independently associated with reduced walk distance.
Emphysema subtypes on CT are common in smokers with and without COPD. Centrilobular and panlobular emphysema but not paraseptal emphysema have considerable symptomatic and physiological consequences.
PMCID: PMC3882898  PMID: 24384106
Emphysema; computed tomography; centrilobular; paraseptal; panlobular
5.  Establishing normal reference values in quantitative computed tomography of emphysema 
Journal of thoracic imaging  2013;28(5):280-283.
Quantitative computed tomography (QCT) can provide reliable and valid measures of lung structure and volumes. Similar to lung function and volumes measured by spirometry, lung measures obtained by QCT vary by demographic and anthropomorphic factors including sex, race/ethnicity and height in asymptomatic non-smokers. Hence, some accounting for these factors is necessary to define abnormal from normal QCT values and disease severity. Similar to spirometry and cardiac volumes, prediction equations for QCT may be derived from a sample of asymptomatic individuals to estimate reference values.
This paper describes the methodology of reference equation development using, as an example, quantitative densitometry to detect pulmonary emphysema. The process described is generalizable to other QCT measures, including lung volumes, airway dimensions and gas-trapping. Pulmonary emphysema is defined morphologically by airspace enlargement with alveolar wall destruction and has been shown to correlate with low lung attenuation estimated by QCT. Deriving reference values for a normal quantity of low lung attenuation requires three steps: First, criteria that define normal must be established. Second, variables for inclusion must be selected based on an understanding of subject, scanner and protocol specific factors that influence lung attenuation. Finally, a reference sample of normal individuals must be selected that is representative of the population in which QCT will be used to detect pulmonary emphysema. Sources of bias and confounding inherent to reference values are also discussed.
Reference equation development is a multistep process that can define normal values for QCT measures such as lung attenuation. Normative reference values will increase the utility of QCT in both research and clinical practice.
PMCID: PMC3786591  PMID: 23966092
quantitative; computed tomography; emphysema; reference equation; prediction
6.  Plasma sphingomyelin and longitudinal change in emphysema on computed tomography. The MESA Lung study 
Ceramide causes endothelial apoptosis and emphysema-like changes in animal models.
Test if plasma sphingomyelin, a major precursor of ceramide, would predict longitudinal increase in the percentage of emphysema-like lung on computed tomography (CT).
Materials and methods
3,840 participants had their plasma sphingomyelin measured at baseline examination and their pulmonary emphysema measured on cardiac CT scans at baseline and on follow-up visits. Mixed effects models were used to adjust for potential confounders.
one standard deviation increase in sphingomyelin predicted a 0.12 % per year (95% CI: 0.02 to 0.22; p = 0.019) greater increase of percent emphysema.
Discussion and conclusion
Higher plasma levels of sphingomyelin predicted greater annual increase in quantitatively measured percent emphysema.
PMCID: PMC4088962  PMID: 24649875
Sphingomyelin; Ceramide; Emphysema; Computed Tomography
7.  Ethnicity and Sex Modify the Association of Serum C-Reactive Protein with Microalbuminuria 
Ethnicity & disease  2008;18(3):324-329.
To study the association between serum C-reactive protein (CRP) and urinary albumin excretion in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis and to assess whether the association is modified by ethnicity, sex, or systolic blood pressure.
This was a cross-sectional study of 6675 participants who were free from macro albuminuria and clinical cardiovascular disease (mean age 62.1 years, 53% female; 39% White, 27% African American, 22% Hispanic, and 12% Chinese). Urinary albumin excretion was measured by spot urine albumin-to-creatinine ratio (ACR). Effect modifications were tested after adjusting for age, diabetes, body mass index, smoking, use of angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor or angiotensin-receptor blocker, other antihypertensive drugs, estrogens, statins, and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
The association between CRP and ACR was modified by ethnicity (P=.01) and sex (P<.001), but not by systolic blood pressure. After multivariate adjustment, the association remained in Chinese, African American, and Hispanic men and African American women (P<.02 for African American men, and P<.04 for the other subgroups).
The association between CRP and ACR was modified by ethnicity and sex; it was stronger in non-White men and African American women. These interactions have not been reported before, and future studies should consider them.
PMCID: PMC4089959  PMID: 18785447
Albuminuria; C-Reactive Protein; Ethnicity; Gender
8.  Genetic Ancestry and the Relationship of Cigarette Smoking to Lung Function and Percent Emphysema in Four Race/Ethnic Groups: a Cross-sectional Study 
Thorax  2013;68(7):634-642.
Cigarette smoking is the major cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and emphysema. Recent studies suggest that susceptibility to cigarette smoke may vary by race/ethnicity; however, they were generally small and relied on self-reported race/ethnicity.
To test the hypothesis that relationships of smoking to lung function and percent emphysema differ by genetic ancestry and self-reported race/ethnicity among Whites, African-Americans, Hispanics and Chinese-Americans.
Cross-sectional population-based study of adults age 45-84 years in the United States
Principal components of genetic ancestry and continental ancestry estimated from one-million genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphisms. Pack-years calculated as years smoking cigarettes-per-day/20. Spirometry measured for 3,344 and percent emphysema on computed tomography for 8,224 participants.
The prevalence of ever-smoking was: Whites, 57.6%; African-Americans, 56.4%; Hispanics, 46.7%; and Chinese-Americans, 26.8%. Every 10 pack-years was associated with −0.73% (95% CI −0.90%, −0.56%) decrement in the forced expiratory volume in one second to forced vital capacity (FEV1/FVC) and a 0.23% (95% CI 0.08%, 0.38%) increase in percent emphysema. There was no evidence that relationships of pack-years to the FEV1/FVC, airflow obstruction and percent emphysema varied by genetic ancestry (all p>0.10), self-reported race/ethnicity (all p>0.10) or, among African-Americans, African ancestry. There were small differences in relationships of pack-years to the FEV1 among male Chinese-Americans and to the FEV1/FVC with African and Native American ancestry among male Hispanics only.
In this large cohort, there was little-to-no evidence that the associations of smoking to lung function and percent emphysema differed by genetic ancestry or self-reported race/ethnicity.
PMCID: PMC4020409  PMID: 23585509
cigarette smoke; genetic ancestry; lung function; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; COPD; emphysema; FVC; Forced Vital Capacity; FEV1; Forced Expiratory Volume in 1 second
9.  Endothelial Microparticles in Mild Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and Emphysema. The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Study 
Rationale: Basic research implicates alveolar endothelial cell apoptosis in the pathogenesis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and emphysema. However, information on endothelial microparticles (EMPs) in mild COPD and emphysema is lacking.
Objectives: We hypothesized that levels of CD31+ EMPs phenotypic for endothelial cell apoptosis would be elevated in COPD and associated with percent emphysema on computed tomography (CT). Associations with pulmonary microvascular blood flow (PMBF), diffusing capacity, and hyperinflation were also examined.
Methods: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis COPD Study recruited participants with COPD and control subjects age 50–79 years with greater than or equal to 10 pack-years without clinical cardiovascular disease. CD31+ EMPs were measured using flow cytometry in 180 participants who also underwent CTs and spirometry. CD62E+ EMPs phenotypic for endothelial cell activation were also measured. COPD was defined by standard criteria. Percent emphysema was defined as regions less than −950 Hounsfield units on full-lung scans. PMBF was assessed on gadolinium-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging. Hyperinflation was defined as residual volume/total lung capacity. Linear regression was used to adjust for potential confounding factors.
Measurements and Main Results: CD31+ EMPs were elevated in COPD compared with control subjects (P = 0.03) and were notably increased in mild COPD (P = 0.03). CD31+ EMPs were positively related to percent emphysema (P = 0.045) and were inversely associated with PMBF (P = 0.047) and diffusing capacity (P = 0.01). In contrast, CD62E+ EMPs were elevated in severe COPD (P = 0.003) and hyperinflation (P = 0.001).
Conclusions: CD31+ EMPs, suggestive of endothelial cell apoptosis, were elevated in mild COPD and emphysema. In contrast, CD62E+ EMPs indicative of endothelial activation were elevated in severe COPD and hyperinflation.
PMCID: PMC3735242  PMID: 23600492
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; emphysema; antigens, CD31; endothelium; pulmonary disease
10.  APOM and High-Density Lipoprotein are associated with Lung Function and Percent Emphysema 
The European respiratory journal  2013;43(4):1003-1017.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is linked to cardiovascular disease; however, there are few studies on the associations of cardiovascular genes with COPD.
We assessed the association of lung function with 2,100 genes selected for cardiovascular diseases among 20,077 European-Americans and 6,900 African-Americans. We performed replication of significant loci in the other racial group and an independent consortium of Europeans, tested the associations of significant loci with percent emphysema, and examined gene expression in an independent sample. We then tested the association of a related lipid biomarker with FEV1/FVC and percent emphysema.
We identified one new polymorphism for FEV1/FVC (rs805301) in European-Americans (p=1.3×10−6) and a second (rs707974) in the combined European-American and African-American analysis (p=1.38×10−7). Both SNPs flank the gene for apolipoprotein M (apoM), a component of HDL. Both replicated in an independent cohort. SNPs in a second gene related to apoM and HDL, PCSK9, were associated with FEV1/FVC among African-Americans. rs707974 was associated with percent emphysema among European-Americans and African-Americans, and APOM expression was related to FEV1/FVC and percent emphysema. Higher HDL levels were associated with lower FEV1/FVC and greater percent emphysema.
These findings suggest a novel role for the APOM/HDL pathway in the pathogenesis of COPD and emphysema.
PMCID: PMC4041087  PMID: 23900982
Apolipoproteins; Cholesterol; Percent Emphysema; Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide; Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive
11.  Pulmonary Hyperinflation and Left Ventricular Mass 
Circulation  2013;127(14):1503-1511e6.
Left ventricular (LV) mass is an important predictor of heart failure and cardiovascular mortality, yet determinants of LV mass are incompletely understood. Pulmonary hyperinflation in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may contribute to changes in intrathoracic pressure that increase LV wall stress. We therefore hypothesized that residual lung volume in COPD would be associated with greater LV mass.
Methods and results
The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) COPD Study recruited smokers aged 50–79 years who were free of clinical cardiovascular disease. LV mass was measured by cardiac magnetic resonance. Pulmonary function testing was performed according to guidelines. Regression models were used to adjust for age, sex, body size, blood pressure and other cardiac risk factors.
Among 119 MESA COPD Study participants, mean age was 69±6 years, 55% were male and 65% had COPD, mostly of mild or moderate severity. Mean LV mass was 128±34 grams. Residual lung volume was independently associated with greater LV mass (7.2 grams per standard deviation increase in residual volume; 95% CI 2.2 to 12; P=0.004), and was similar in magnitude to that of systolic blood pressure (7.6 grams per standard deviation increase in systolic blood pressure, 95% CI 4.3 to 11 grams; p<0.001). Similar results were observed for LV mass to end-diastolic volume ratio (p=0.02) and with hyperinflation measured as residual volume to total lung capacity ratio (P=0.009).
Pulmonary hyperinflation, as measured by residual lung volume or residual lung volume to total lung capacity ratio, is associated with greater LV mass.
PMCID: PMC4018203  PMID: 23493320
Left ventricular mass; hyperinflation; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
12.  Asthma and lung structure on CT: The MESA Lung Study 
The potential consequences of asthma in childhood and young adulthood on lung structure in older adults have not been studied in a large, population-based cohort.
The authors hypothesized that a history of asthma onset in childhood (age 18 or before) or young adulthood (age 19 to 45) was associated with altered lung structure on computed tomography (CT) in later life.
The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis Lung Study recruited 3,965 participants and assessed asthma history using standardized questionnaires, spirometry following guidelines, and segmental airway dimensions and percent low attenuation areas on CT scans.
Asthma with onset in childhood and young adulthood was associated with large decrements in the forced expiratory volume in one second among participants with a mean age of 66 years (−365 ml and −343 ml, respectively; P<0.001). Asthma with onset in childhood and young adulthood was associated with increased mean airway wall thickness standardized to an internal perimeter of 10 mm (Pi10) (0.1 mm, P<0.001 for both), predominantly from narrower segmental airway lumens (−0.39 mm and −0.34 mm, respectively; P<0.001). Asthma with onset in childhood and young adulthood also was associated with a greater percentage of low attenuation areas (1.69% and 4.30%, respectively; P<0.001). Findings were similar among never smokers except that differential percentage of low attenuation areas in child-onset asthma was not seen in them.
Asthma with onset in childhood or young adulthood, was associated with reduced lung function, narrower airways and, among asthmatics who smoked, greater percentage of low attenuation areas in later life.
PMCID: PMC3564253  PMID: 23374265
airway remodeling; airway structure; asthma; emphysema; epidemiology
13.  Cigarette smoking and airway wall thickness on CT scan in a multi-ethnic cohort: The MESA Lung Study 
Respiratory medicine  2012;106(12):1655-1664.
Autopsy studies show that smoking contributes to airway wall hyperplasia and narrowing of the airway lumen. Studies of smoking and airway measures on computed tomography (CT) scan are limited to case-control studies of measures that combine airway lumen and wall thickness.
We hypothesized that cumulative cigarette smoking would be associated with increased airway wall thickness in a large, population-based cohort.
The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis enrolled participants age 45-84 years from the general population. Smoking history was assessed via standardized questionnaire items; current smoking was confirmed in half the cohort with cotinine. Airway lumen and wall thickness were measured in two dimensions in posterior basal segmental bronchi on cardiac-gated CT scans. Analyses were adjusted for age, gender, genetic ancestry, education, height, weight, asthma history, particulate matter, scanner type, and scanner current.
Half of the 7,898 participants had smoked and 14% were current smokers. Pack-years of smoking were associated with thicker airway walls (mean increase 0.002 mm per ten pack-years [95% CI: 0.00002, 0.004] p=0.03). Current smoking was associated with narrower airway lumens (mean decrease −0.11 mm [95% CI: −0.2, −0.02] p=0.02). There was no evidence that either association was modified by genetic ancestry, and findings persisted among participants without clinical disease.
Long-term cigarette smoking was associated with subclinical increases in wall thickness of sub-segmental airways whereas current smoking was associated with narrower airway lumen diameters. Smoking may contribute to airway wall thickening prior to the development of overt chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
PMCID: PMC3549633  PMID: 22974831
smoking; airway remodeling; Pi10; wall thickness; lumen; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
14.  Does the relationship between asthma and obesity differ by neighborhood? 
Respiratory medicine  2008;102(12):1797-1804.
PMCID: PMC3695444  PMID: 18707858
epidemiology; survey; urban health
15.  Pulmonary Function is Associated with Distal Aortic Calcium, not Proximal Aortic Distensibility. MESA Lung Study 
COPD  2011;8(2):71-78.
Forced expiratory volume in one second strongly predicts mortality from cardiovascular disease. FEV1 has been associated with aortic stiffness a strong independent predictor of cardiovascular mortality. However, the anatomical site and possible mechanisms linking aortic stiffness and lung function are unknown. We therefore examined if FEV1 and CT percent emphysema were associated with calcification of the abdominal aorta or reduced distensibility of the proximal thoracic aorta.
The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) measured aortic calcification on cardiac and abdominal CT scans and proximal aortic distensibility using magnetic resonance among participants aged 45–84 years without clinical cardiovascular disease. Spirometry was measured following ATS/ERS guidelines and percent emphysema was measured in the lung fields of cardiac CT scans. Multivariate analyses adjusted for age, sex, race/ethnicity and cardiovascular risk factors.
Of 1,917 participants with aortic distensibility measures, 13% were current and 38% were former smokers. Eighteen percent had airflow limitation without asthma. FEV1 was associated with the extent of distal aortic calcification (0.76; 95%CI 0.60–0.97, p=0.02) but not proximal aortic calcification or proximal aortic distensibility (−0.04 mmHg−1; 95%CI −0.16–0.09 mmHg−1, p=0.60). Percent emphysema was associated with neither measure.
FEV1 was associated with severity of distal aortic calcification where it was present independently of smoking and other cardiovascular risk factors but not with distensibility or calcification of the proximal aorta.
PMCID: PMC3629728  PMID: 21495835
forced expiratory volume; pulmonary emphysema; aorta; calcification; compliance
16.  Performance of Maximal Inspiratory Pressure Tests and MIP Reference Equations for Four Ethnic Groups 
Respiratory care  2009;54(10):1321-1328.
Maximal inspiratory pressure (MIP) is an important and non-invasive index of diaphragm strength and an independent predictor of all-cause mortality. The ability of adults over a wide age range and multiple ethnicities to perform MIP tests has previously not been evaluated.
The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) recruited white, African-American, Hispanic and Chinese-American participants ages 45–84 years and free of clinical cardiovascular disease in six US cities. MIP was measured using standard techniques among 3849 MESA participants. The MIP quality goal was 5 maneuvers, with the two largest values matching within 10 cmH2O. Correlates of MIP quality and values were assessed in logistic and linear regression models.
The 3849 MESA-Lung participants with MIP measures were 51% female, 35% white, 26% African-American, 23% Hispanic, and 16% Chinese-American. Mean MIP±SD was 73±26 cmH2O for women and 97±29 cmH2O for men. The quality goal was achieved by 83% of the cohort and was associated with female gender, older age, race/ethnicity, study site, low FEV1/FVC ratio, and wheeze with dyspnea. The multivariate correlates of MIP were male gender, younger age, higher BMI, shorter height, higher FVC, higher systolic blood pressure (in women) and health status (in men). There were no clinically important race/ethnic differences in MIP values.
Race-specific reference equations for MIP are unnecessary in the United States. More than 80% of adults can be successfully coached for 5 maneuvers with repeatability within 10 cmH2O.
PMCID: PMC3616895  PMID: 19796411
diaphragm strength; respiratory muscle strength; maximal inspiratory pressure; quality control; pulmonary function testing
17.  Subclinical Atherosclerosis, Airflow Obstruction and Emphysema: the MESA Lung Study 
Airflow obstruction is independent risk factor for cardiovascular events in the general population. The affected vascular bed and contribution of emphysema to cardiovascular risk are unclear. We examined if an obstructive pattern of spirometry and quantitatively defined emphysema were associated with subclinical atherosclerosis in the carotid, peripheral and coronary circulations.
The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis recruited participants age 45–84 years without clinical cardiovascular disease. Spirometry, carotid intima-media thickness, ankle-brachial index and coronary artery calcium were measured using standard protocols. Percent of emphysema-like lung was measured in the lung windows of cardiac computed tomography scans among 3,642 participants. Multiple linear regression was used to adjust for cardiac risk factors including C-reactive protein.
Decrements in the FEV1 and FEV1/FVC were associated with greater internal carotid intima-media thickness among smokers (P=0.03 and P<0.001, respectively) whereas percent emphysema was associated with reduced ankle-brachial index regardless of smoking history (P=0.004). Coronary artery calcium was associated with neither lung function (prevalence ratio for severe airflow obstruction: 0.99; 95% CI, 0.91 to 1.07) nor percent emphysema.
An obstructive pattern of spirometry and emphysema are associated distinctly and independently with subclinical atherosclerosis in the carotid arteries and peripheral circulation, respectively, and were not independently related to coronary artery calcium.
PMCID: PMC3616898  PMID: 22034646
18.  Reproducibility and Validity of a Handheld Spirometer 
Respiratory care  2008;53(4):433-441.
Handheld spirometers have several advantages over desktop spirometers but worries persist regarding their reproducibility and validity. We undertook an independent examination of an ultrasonic flow-sensing handheld spirometer.
Laboratory methods included reproducibility and validity testing using a waveform generator with standard American Thoracic Society (ATS) waveforms, in-line testing, calibration adaptor testing, and compression of the mouthpiece. Clinical testing involved repeated testing of 24 spirometry-naive volunteers and comparison to a volume-sensing dry rolling seal spirometer.
The EasyOne Diagnostic spirometer exceeded standard thresholds of acceptability for ATS waveforms. In-line testing yielded valid results with relative differences (mean ± SD) between the EasyOne and the reference spirometer for the forced vital capacity (FVC) of 0.03±0.23 L and the forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) of −0.06±0.09 L. The calibration adaptor showed no appreciable problems, but extreme compression of the mouthpiece reduced measures. In clinical testing, coefficients of variation and limits of agreement were, respectively: 3.3% and 0.24 L for the FVC; 2.6% and 0.18 L for the FEV1; and 1.9% and 0.05 for the FEV1/FVC ratio. The EasyOne yielded lower values than the reference spirometry (FVC: −0.12 L; FEV1: −0.17 L; FEV1/FVC ratio: −0.02). Limits of agreement were within criteria for FVC but not for the FEV1, possibly due to a training effect.
The EasyOne spirometer yielded generally reproducible results that were generally valid compared to laboratory-based spirometry. The use of this handheld spirometer in clinical, occupational and research settings seems justified.
PMCID: PMC3595551  PMID: 18364054
19.  Association of emphysema-like lung on cardiac computed tomography and mortality in persons without airflow obstruction: the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) Lung Study 
Annals of internal medicine  2014;161(12):863-873.
Whereas low lung function is known to predict mortality in the general population, the prognostic significance of emphysema on computed tomography (CT) in persons without chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) remains uncertain.
To determine whether greater emphysema-like lung on CT is associated with all-cause mortality among persons without airflow obstruction or COPD in the general population.
Prospective cohort study.
Population-based, multiethnic sample from 6 US communities.
2965 participants ages 45-84 years without airflow obstruction on spirometry.
Emphysema-like lung was defined on cardiac CT as the number of lung voxels less than -950 Hounsfield Units, and was adjusted for the number of total imaged lung voxels.
Among 2965 participants, 50.9% of whom never smoked, there were 186 deaths over a median of 6.2 years. Greater emphysema-like lung was independently associated with increased mortality (adjusted hazard ratio [HR]1.14 per one-half of the interquartile range, 95% CI 1.04-1.24, P=0.004), adjusting for potential confounders including cardiovascular risk factors and the forced expiratory volume in one second. Generalized additive models supported a linear association between emphysema-like lung and mortality without evidence for a threshold. The association was of greatest magnitude among smokers, although multiplicative interaction terms did not support effect modification by smoking status.
Cardiac CT scans did not include lung apices. The number of deaths was limited among subgroup analyses.
Emphysema-like lung on CT was associated with all-cause mortality among persons without airflow obstruction or COPD in a general population sample, particularly among smokers. Recognition of the independent prognostic significance of emphysema on CT among patients without COPD on spirometry is warranted.
Primary Funding Source
PMCID: PMC4347817  PMID: 25506855
20.  Cardiovascular Disease is Associated with COPD Severity and Reduced Functional Status and Quality of Life 
COPD  2014;11(5):546-551.
Smoking is a major risk factor for both cardiovascular disease (CVD) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). More individuals with COPD die from CVD than respiratory causes and the risk of developing CVD appears to be independent of smoking burden. Although CVD is a common comorbid condition within COPD, the nature of its relationships to COPD affection status and severity, and functional status is not well understood.
The first 2,500 members of the COPDGene cohort were evaluated. Subjects were current and former smokers with a minimum 10 pack year history of cigarette smoking. COPD was defined by spirometry as an FEV1/FVC < lower limit of normal (LLN) with further identification of severity by FEV1 percent of predicted (GOLD stages 2, 3, and 4) for the main analysis. The presence of physician-diagnosed self-reported CVD was determined from a medical history questionnaire administered by a trained staff member.
A total of 384 (15%) had pre-existing CVD. Self-reported CVD was independently related to COPD (Odds Ratio=1.61, 95% CI=1.18–2.20, p=0.01) after adjustment for covariates with CHF having the greatest association with COPD. Within subjects with COPD, pre-existing self-reported CVD placed subjects at greater risk of hospitalization due to exacerbation, higher BODE index, and greater St. George’s questionnaire score. The presence of self-reported CVD was associated with a shorter six-minute walk distance in those with COPD (p<0.05).
Self-reported CVD was independently related to COPD with presence of both self-reported CVD and COPD associated with a markedly reduced functional status and reduced quality of life. Identification of CVD in those with COPD is an important consideration in determining functional status.
PMCID: PMC4467820  PMID: 24831864
Pulmonary Heart Function Comorbidities
21.  The Epidemiology of Vascular Dysfunction Relating to Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and Emphysema 
Cor pulmonale has long been described in very severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and emphysema. Cross-sectional results from population-based studies show that left ventricular filling and a variety of vascular measures in the systemic circulation are abnormal in preclinical COPD and emphysema and that a predominant vascular change in COPD and emphysema is endothelial and microvascular dysfunction. These findings suggest that pulmonary vascular changes may occur early in COPD and emphysema and might contribute to pathogenesis. However, longitudinal epidemiologic studies with direct measures of the pulmonary vasculature are lacking; therefore, inferences are limited at present. New imaging-based approaches to the assessment of the pulmonary vasculature are applicable to epidemiologic studies and may help in defining the relationship of pulmonary vascular damage to progression of COPD and emphysema. These measures may also provide imaging-based surrogate markers, and novel therapeutics targeted to the pulmonary vasculature might reduce symptoms and improve function in these common diseases.
PMCID: PMC3359073  PMID: 22052931
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; pulmonary emphysema; pulmonary hypertension; vascular disease; pulmonary vasculature
Thorax  2013;69(5):492-495.
SPIROMICS is a multi-center observational study of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) designed to guide future development of therapies for COPD by 1) providing robust criteria for sub-classifying COPD participants into groups most likely to benefit from a given therapy during a clinical trial, thereby improving the chances of successful outcome; and 2) identifying biomarkers/phenotypes that can be used as intermediate outcomes to reliably predict clinical benefit during therapeutic trials, thus reducing costs. The goal is to enroll 3,200 participants in four strata: severe COPD, mild/moderate COPD, smokers without airflow obstruction and non-smoking controls. Participants undergo a baseline visit including morphometric measures, spirometry, six-minute walk, an inspiratory and expiratory chest CT, and a set of standardized questionnaires. Biospecimens, including plasma, serum, DNA, urine and induced sputum, are collected and stored. There are three annual follow-up examinations, with quarterly telephone calls to assess for exacerbations, hospitalizations and mortality. Bronchoscopy is being performed in a subset of participants and a subset of COPD patients will be assessed during exacerbations. Adjudication of exacerbations and mortality will be undertaken. SPIROMICS is designed so that sub-studies and ancillary studies testing additional hypotheses can be added.
PMCID: PMC3954445  PMID: 24029743
COPD Exacerbations; Emphysema; Imaging/CT MRI etc; COPD epidemiology
23.  Cluster Analysis in the COPDGene Study Identifies Subtypes of Smokers with Distinct Patterns of Airway Disease and Emphysema 
Thorax  2014;69(5):416-423.
There is notable heterogeneity in the clinical presentation of patients with COPD. To characterize this heterogeneity, we sought to identify subgroups of smokers by applying cluster analysis to data from the COPDGene Study.
We applied a clustering method, k-means, to data from 10,192 smokers in the COPDGene Study. After splitting the sample into a training and validation set, we evaluated three sets of input features across a range of k (user-specified number of clusters). Stable solutions were tested for association with four COPD-related measures and five genetic variants previously associated with COPD at genome-wide significance. The results were confirmed in the validation set.
We identified four clusters that can be characterized as 1) relatively resistant smokers (i.e. no/mild obstruction and minimal emphysema despite heavy smoking), 2) mild upper zone emphysema predominant, 3) airway disease predominant, and 4) severe emphysema. All clusters are strongly associated with COPD-related clinical characteristics, including exacerbations and dyspnea (p<0.001). We found strong genetic associations between the mild upper zone emphysema group and rs1980057 near HHIP, and between the severe emphysema group and rs8034191 in the chromosome 15q region (p<0.001). All significant associations were replicated at p<0.05 in the validation sample (12/12 associations with clinical measures and 2/2 genetic associations).
Cluster analysis identifies four subgroups of smokers that show robust associations with clinical characteristics of COPD and known COPD-associated genetic variants.
PMCID: PMC4004338  PMID: 24563194
24.  Traffic-related Air Pollution and the Right Ventricle. The Multi-ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
Rationale: Right heart failure is a cause of morbidity and mortality in common and rare heart and lung diseases. Exposure to traffic-related air pollution is linked to left ventricular hypertrophy, heart failure, and death. Relationships between traffic-related air pollution and right ventricular (RV) structure and function have not been studied.
Objectives: To characterize the relationship between traffic-related air pollutants and RV structure and function.
Methods: We included men and women with magnetic resonance imaging assessment of RV structure and function and estimated residential outdoor nitrogen dioxide (NO2) concentrations from the Multi-ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, a study of individuals free of clinical cardiovascular disease at baseline. Multivariable linear regression estimated associations between NO2 exposure (averaged over the year prior to magnetic resonance imaging) and measures of RV structure and function after adjusting for demographics, anthropometrics, smoking status, diabetes mellitus, and hypertension. Adjustment for corresponding left ventricular parameters, traffic-related noise, markers of inflammation, and lung disease were considered in separate models. Secondary analyses considered oxides of nitrogen (NOx) as the exposure.
Measurements and Main Results: The study sample included 3,896 participants. In fully adjusted models, higher NO2 was associated with greater RV mass and larger RV end-diastolic volume with or without further adjustment for corresponding left ventricular parameters, traffic-related noise, inflammatory markers, or lung disease (all P < 0.05). There was no association between NO2 and RV ejection fraction. Relationships between NOx and RV morphology were similar.
Conclusions: Higher levels of NO2 exposure were associated with greater RV mass and larger RV end-diastolic volume.
PMCID: PMC4098110  PMID: 24593877
air pollutants; pulmonary circulation; heart ventricles; pulmonary hypertension
25.  Transcriptomic profiles of aging in purified human immune cells 
BMC Genomics  2015;16(1):333.
Transcriptomic studies hold great potential towards understanding the human aging process. Previous transcriptomic studies have identified many genes with age-associated expression levels; however, small samples sizes and mixed cell types often make these results difficult to interpret.
Using transcriptomic profiles in CD14+ monocytes from 1,264 participants of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (aged 55–94 years), we identified 2,704 genes differentially expressed with chronological age (false discovery rate, FDR ≤ 0.001). We further identified six networks of co-expressed genes that included prominent genes from three pathways: protein synthesis (particularly mitochondrial ribosomal genes), oxidative phosphorylation, and autophagy, with expression patterns suggesting these pathways decline with age. Expression of several chromatin remodeler and transcriptional modifier genes strongly correlated with expression of oxidative phosphorylation and ribosomal protein synthesis genes. 17% of genes with age-associated expression harbored CpG sites whose degree of methylation significantly mediated the relationship between age and gene expression (p < 0.05). Lastly, 15 genes with age-associated expression were also associated (FDR ≤ 0.01) with pulse pressure independent of chronological age.
Comparing transcriptomic profiles of CD14+ monocytes to CD4+ T cells from a subset (n = 423) of the population, we identified 30 age-associated (FDR < 0.01) genes in common, while larger sets of differentially expressed genes were unique to either T cells (188 genes) or monocytes (383 genes). At the pathway level, a decline in ribosomal protein synthesis machinery gene expression with age was detectable in both cell types.
An overall decline in expression of ribosomal protein synthesis genes with age was detected in CD14+ monocytes and CD4+ T cells, demonstrating that some patterns of aging are likely shared between different cell types. Our findings also support cell-specific effects of age on gene expression, illustrating the importance of using purified cell samples for future transcriptomic studies. Longitudinal work is required to establish the relationship between identified age-associated genes/pathways and aging-related diseases.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12864-015-1522-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4417516  PMID: 25898983
Aging; Monocyte; T cell; Transcriptome; Mitochondrial ribosome; Translation; Protein synthesis; Ribonucleoprotein complex; Oxidative phosphorylation; Autophagy; Methylation

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